Monday, April 9, 2012

Social Media Policies Vary Throughout the NCAA

While multiple higher-education institutions and universities are writing up strict social media guidelines for the 2012-2013 student athlete code of conducts, some are not.

The University of Iowa states that they are confident that a less-intrusive social media policy is adequate for their student athletes.  The reason?  It stressed student responsibility.  "We said that's a private thing and students have the right to privacy," stated the head of the UI Presidential Committee on Athletics.  So does all of this mean that athletes can tweet whatever they please without punishment?  The answer is no.  If athletics officials receive complaints about a player or post on Twitter or Facebook than the situation will be looked into.

Ohio State University, on the other hand, may be cracking down a bit more.  OSU's social media policy requires that students "may not block or otherwise prevent coaches or athletic department staff members from viewing [their] site."  According to lawyers this may be violating an individual's constitutional rights to free speech.  Bradley Shear, a social media lawyers, says that "If you're a public school, this is a clear violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights."  You may just be thinking football, basketball, and other prominent sports but it is on a team-by-team basis.  An OSU synchronized swimmer says she is required to add her coach on social media sites and that the coach monitors her online presence frequently.  "She definitely goes on and checks our Facebook often," she said.

Schools like the University of North Carolina, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and numerous others have decided to employ outside sources in an effort to track athletes' social media use.  One example of this is UDiligence.  Kevin Long, the current CEO of UDiligence, said, "When an athlete installs our app, [they] grant us access to the information in their account."  He says that they never find out the athlete's passwords, it is simply an app that gives access.  As most know, access is granted very easily through social media and UDiligence does just that.  Another example of social monitoring is Varsity Monitor which I talked about in a previous post.

In years past, Kansas State coaches have taken a hands-off approach to athlete social media interactions, but after some abuse by the football and basketball teams, they're singing a different tune now.  In order to head off any problems, the K-State men's basketball team conducted a training session or social media before their season which focused primarily on Twitter behavior.

What may be the most shocking is the policy set by Montana State University.  Their social media policy states this: "Do not post information about specific student athletes, unless it is related to an award or honor."  When fans are following a team they want engagement between players.  We see professional athletes engage with each other on occasion and college athletes are typically together when using social media.  With this policy, players cannot share updates about spending time with each other or even let everyone know what a great job someone did at a game.

What does the NCAA have to say?  They recently stated that colleges should only be monitoring student athlete accounts when there is suspicion.  The NCAA has, however, stayed quiet about the subject of private and password-protected material.

Smart move, NCAA.  Smart move.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's the Big Night; Kansas vs. Kentucky

Do you have Twitter? I sure hope so!  If not, you should get it!
Do you like basketball? If you're reading about the "Big Night", you should like basketball!
Have you been watching March Madness? If not, you should watch tonight’s game!

Since you, I’m assuming, have Twitter, chances are you have seen an abundance of tweets about #MarchMadness, @MarchMadness, or the #FinalFour.  A lot of tweets that you see probably have some mention of @KUAthletics or @UKAthleticsNews as well since it is down to Kansas and Kentucky for tonight’s big game.  So just how popular are these tweets and Twitter handles?  Let’s take a look!

#MarchMadness / @MarchMadness

Out of the last 1,500 tweets generated, there have been 4,726,821 impressions which leads to a reach of approximately 4,485,718 followers within the past 24 hours. With those kinds of numbers, sports teams and fans can't go wrong by adding a short little hashtag to each of their tweets.  It's an easy way to get mentions, retweets, and replies.

The number of people who have started to follow the official March Madness twitter account has increased by quite a bit since the beginning of the tournament and now the hashtag is becoming more popular.

So just how often are they tweeting from the official NCAA March Madness account?  Numbers have been steady during the tournament before shortly declining and then rising again when Kansas and Kentucky were decided.

Just like #MarchMadness, the hashtag #FinalFour has also had an explosion on Twitter.  Out of the last 1,500 tweets, there have been less impressions with a still staggering number of 2,048,305.  The hashtag has also reached out to an audience of 1,545,429 followers within the past 24 hours.  With the big game happening tonight there will more than likely be a rise in the number of tweets consisting of #FinalFour.  We'll have to wait and see!

@KUAthletics (University of Kansas)

@UKAthleticsNews (University of Kentucky)
NOTE: March 25th is when they punched their ticket to the Final Four.

Do you think we'll see a rise in followers and tweets as the game gets closer?  What about after the game when one team walks away with the National Championship?  Will followers go down if the team loses tonight?  There is only one way to know.  Follow them on Twitter and see for yourself!

One more thing: Andrew Sharp of SB Nation has his 15 thoughts on tonight's game.  It's a great article!