A Texas cheerleader runs onto the field with a giant Longhorns flag before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Austin, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Texas, Michigan social media teams collaborate, spread new message #UnitedAsOne

‘We think our combined audiences need hope that there are brighter days ahead of us’

Posted March 19th, 2020

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Texas officials have pulled back and taken a conservative public stance this week as COVID-19 continues to bring the world to a halt. Still, the Longhorns are leading the way with a positive tone on social media.

The NCAA unveiled the #UnitedAsOne campaign on Thursday in response to all basketball tournaments and spring championship events having been canceled.

Marc Jordan, assistant director of UT athletics social and digital strategy, collaborated with his Michigan counterpart Brian Wagner. The two started discussing concepts, and “I suggested our combined messaging should be that of unity around sport as a whole,” Jordan told the American-Statesman.

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“We think our combined audiences need hope that there are brighter days ahead of us,” Jordan said. “If we can inspire people collectively through collaboration, let’s do it.”

From there, things moving quickly. Jordan said UT graphic designer Sam LaBelle crafted the basic concept that schools and conferences could adapt.

The left side of the graphic can be adapted to include any team or conference logo. On the right, it reads United As One, and the “O” includes the NCAA logo. By Thursday afternoon, the #UnitedAsOne campaign was stretching across Twitter.

“I wanted the access to be available across all divisions of college athletics so we could engage and unite as many people as possible under the NCAA umbrella,” Jordan said.

Social media is the new tool in the college athletics arms race. Texas has dramatically upped its social media presentation in recent years, and the school now tracks and touts its engagement across various platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Why social media? That’s where the recruits are.

Oklahoma went to extremes on national signing day by producing a small movie that looked straight out of Hollywood. Now, schools crank out graphics for recruits and promote current athletes with short highlight videos.

Schools also use social media to distribute releases, and promote upcoming events and press conferences.

But with sports on hold thanks to the coronavirus, it speaks volumes about athletic departments’ willingness to work together and promote unity to various fan bases.

“Moments like this, I feel like we should be bringing our teams together,” Michigan’s Brian Wagner said, according to a statement. “All of our programs, all of our student-athletes, our coaching staffs, we’re all in the same boat here. This is certainly something to show that we’re all in this together.”

Could schools band together and create other social media campaigns? Their creativity is limitless.

“Right now it seems social media is one of the few outlets where everyone can connect and departments across the country are looking for ways to do that in a respectful fashion,” Jordan said. “We’re doing that and other departments are figuring out how to proceed with so many unknowns still out there.

“No one has all of the answers, but we’re lucky to have a great team here,” he added. “I have so many colleagues and coworkers to talk this through, brainstorm and help us navigate this together.”

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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