(Please note: this is a post about The University of Oklahoma’s social media accounts that I manage as compared to Oklahoma State University’s Facebook. Both OU and OSU athletics’ social media accounts are very objective and post both wins and losses.)
The secret is out: I’m an Oklahoma State grad who manages the University of Oklahoma’s social media. I loved going to school at OSU. My sister, brother-in-law and brother also went there. My sister, twice actually. She just finished her Ph.D. there. (She’s the smart one in the family.) Our family has very fond memories of OSU. Then I started working at OU and I love that too – the people, the students, the job I get to do, the town. Norman feels like home. And as I like to tell people, I always win Bedlam.
You’ve seen me reference avoiding posts about losses on “What Gamedays Look Like for #TeamWebComm” and “What It’s Really Like to be a Social Media Marketer as Told by Scream Queens’ Gifs” posts. When OU loses a football game, The University of Oklahoma social media accounts (read: Candace) go silent for at least the rest of the weekend – sometimes longer. We don’t post a final score, we don’t recognize that we failed, we don’t officially recognize defeat – lest all hell breaks loose in the comment section and notifications, which results in me binge eating donuts while reading hundreds of people negging everything about OU. Sure it’s not personal but at a certain point it does start to bog me down.
Scrolling through Facebook as I thawed on the ride home from the Bedlam game this past weekend, I noticed OSU’s official account had shared OSU athletics’ post with the final results:
58-23 is a pretty substantial loss by anyone’s standard. But OU also won Bedlam, one of the biggest rivalries in the nation, and took the Big XII Title. It was a huge game and I immediately clicked on the comments to see what people were saying, fearing the worst.
But to my surprise I was met with overwhelming positivity – from both sides of the fence:
Just a handful of almost 200 comments at that time. I swiped back to read the messaging. Standard athletics’ messaging but then on the shared post, there it was: “Ever you’ll find us #LoyalandTrue. Great season, Cowboys!” The first part – a line from the school song which ends with “to our alma mater, O-S-U!”
I swelled with pride and admiration at what my alma mater had just done. With that brilliant messaging, they set the entire tone for their comment section. It was a subtle call to action that signaled their audience flawlessly and their gracious fans responded accordingly.
On a campus that has endured so much tragedy, they stand together and play a bigger game than football.
The on-field experiences at OU and OSU are totally different. Sooner fans expect the win. Always. And when it doesn’t happen or something goes the wrong way, some of our fans sink their fangs in the Sooner flesh. When OSU wasn’t winning and even when there was no hope, I didn’t see or hear awful comments. The stadium got quiet. In my mind, this was them practicing the golden rule in Boone Pickens Stadium.
Yet, while our audiences have different mindsets and the mentalities of the masses are night and day, I can’t help but think that I, as a social media marketing manager, need to take a page out of the OSU’s social media marketing strategy playbook. Sometimes, it’s up to us to help educate our audience. This is true when we’re promoting a new technology, course, project, media – really anything that’s new, you have to educate your audience.
President Boren always teaches kindness. Sooners are kind. It’s one of my favorite things about hearing him speak and the president he is.
So I’m not sure why it took me so long to piece this all together but as a university with a massive, ever-growing following, we need to incorporate this aspect into our social media marketing strategy as well. Sure, I’ve posted about our students doing volunteer work and being kind and helping others. But I’ve never crafted influential messaging after a game we’ve lost to try to teach/help our audience to be kind and gracious losers. It’s a lofty goal and I’m certain I will still sift through a lot of negativity at first. But as President Boren has said regarding the racism and discrimination, “Each of us has an individual responsibility to speak out…We cannot remain silent. ” It might just apply to social media as well and it’s important enough that I think it’s worth a shot.