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Similar to professional sport organizations, intercollegiate athletic programs frequently use social media to reach consumers. However, athletic departments face unique challenges, such as simultaneously managing multiple teams’ social accounts and strategies, while monitoring and advising the socialactivity of student-athletes and coaches. The tactics used to interact with consumers and challenges of using social media have yet to be studied from an athletic department point of view. The purpose of this study was to explore intercollegiate athletic departments’ social media usage patterns, strategies, and challenges. Seven college athletic departments were studied via personal interviews with staff members. The results suggested that while schools are primarily utilizing two forms of social media (Facebook and Twitter), they lack a clear communication strategy for use. They typically used Facebook and Twitter differently to interact with consumers, but regardless of medium, they highlighted the value of consistency through controlling the message, account names, hashtags, and direct communication. Their biggest concerns were staying abreast of the changing landscape of social media and staffing to meet these needs. The importance of being in the digital space is critical for sport marketers, yet the athletic departments interviewed for this study failed to incorporate their social media as part of a greater communication, branding, or marketing plan.


Originally published in: Journal of Contemporary Athletics, 12, 271-290. 2018

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