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Social Media for one?

Social Media for one?

December and January are not only the time for holiday shopping whether its Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving of Blue Monday for online gift shoppers. It marks the end of NCAA Division I men’s College football season. The BCS, which stands for Bowl Championship Series, was founded in 1998 to answer the outcry of fans to dub or nominate a true first place/number one team for that football season. Over the years, however there has been no harmony among its creators and the fans. Fans see major faults within the system and desire a tournament style setting for teams to participate in to nominate one team to the number one spot.

Many leagues, the NFL, NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball – just to name a few – do just that with significantly higher ratings and fan approval. March wouldn’t be nearly as ‘Mad’ a month without the countdown to whose school will finish the tops in men’s college basketball. The Super Bowl has seen astronomical viewing from its premiere game at the end of January. Lower divisions of men’s college football, II and III, ironically have had this competition for years. People tend to be more engaged whether their home team of former alma mater are participating using this method yet the NCAA men’s college football has decided not to jump on board. So in the midst of all this discontent, the BCS thought joining the Web 2.0 world might be a solution to their problem. They decided to create a social media Twitter feed, (@insidetheBCS) and a Facebook fan page.

On paper, it sounds like a great idea. Find out what your fan base’s feelings are and converse with them to get feedback. College fans are some of the most passionate people around and football is no exception, so this would be a great opportunity for the BCS to interact with them. There’s only one problem: The BCS wasn’t interacting as much as it was preaching – Big Mistake! According to Ad Age, the BCS’s first tweets were only “a stream of pro-BCS talking points.”

Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are designed with interaction in mind. So when the BCS hired a Public Relations expert, who used their Twitter platform to merely how great the BCS bowl system was and did nothing to respond to fan rage or questions over why things could not be altered, they were merely broadcasting on a two way medium. Also according to Ad Age, the BCS spent nearly a week only spewing out party lines information much to the disappointment of viewers and fans. Fan anger at the BCS increased at a rapid pace. It almost comes across as if the BCS or any business doesn’t care to listen to its customer base, a huge mistake in today’s networking world. It doesn’t take much for fans to continuously feel that the BCS – and in turn the NCAA -under appreciate them and don’t care about them as customers or patrons. In today’s business world, it takes much more time to gain new customer’s trust than to develop and cultivate existing relationships. I am not taking sides – although it would be interesting to see a football tournament – but a basic rule in using engagement web based materials is consumers are coming to you to not only learn, but ask additional questions and provide their impressions of your implemented content.

The BCS should be using channels like Twitter and Facebook as opportunities rather than blowing this chance with its fans. It has been reported, that the BCS have finally begun responding directly to their fans tweets. Hopefully, it is not a case of too little too late. It should be noted, that huge amounts of money are at stake for the BCS, the NCAA and more specifically the schools themselves to keep the status quo. The BCS and ESPN sports cable network recently signed a 5-year $500 MILLION dollar deal to broadcast these 5 games; not the kind of money anyone walks away from. Schools participating in the 5 BCS games can earn up to $18 million each. This is a very good payday, win or lose. Of the other 29 lesser-known bowl games, between $500 thousand and $4.25 million can be earned, which even if you do not participate in the BCS ‘big-5’, can be a great consolation prize.

So, for the moment things will remain in limbo with such well know people as the current President of the United States chiming in wishing there were a more concrete way of determining a coherent college finale`. With all that said, the underlying question in today’s e-communication world is ‘Can firms afford not to listen to what consumers want?’ It is important to know they want your attention as much if not even more than your product.

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