Great Social Media Idea: Throwing Shade at a Rival

A week ago today, my beloved Portland Pilots laid the smackdown on the scourge of Spokane, the dreaded Gonzaga Bulldogs. It was glorious. Students rushed the court. Your intrepid blogger may have indulged in a few celebratory post-game libations.

Why do I tell you this? Because UP's social media absolutely BLEW UP during the game and, especially, afterward. I was on the front line doing most of the in-game tweeting, and the things that performed best were things that - ever so gently - threw some shade on the Zags. I didn't take it too far, but I definitely got a bit saltier than what most people would normally expect from a "brand." It was a lot of fun, and our fans lapped it up.

I think people live in way too much fear on social media. There is so much worry about possibly offending people that things often get watered down to the point that they are bland and toothless. Especially in higher ed... every school has a rival. It's OK to poke fun at them. To glory in victory over them. To engage in some gentle ribbing. Really and truly - you can take them head on (apply directly to the forehead!) and still respect them as an institution. My audience loved it, and no lines were crossed... all in all, it was a terrific night to be a Pilot.

With those lessons still fresh in my head, I perked up immediately when I saw this great infographic from the University of Arizona:

I love it, and clearly so did the Arizona fans. It's a bit adversarial, it showcases the Wildcat dominance over the Sun Devils, and it even has a Hunger Games reference thrown in for good measure. What's not to like about it? (Unless your an Arizona State grad, that is.)

Side note: I've featured Arizona before, and they always do a terrific job making their graphics work across multiple platforms. The square shape is a distinct giveaway that this is meant for Instagram too, and it's just smart streamlining and great graphic design to make sure is big and bold enough to work on a small phone screen too. It's well worth your time browsing through Arizona's social media sites for some good examples of best practices when it comes to graphics.

Anyway, the lesson to be learned here is to not be scared of going after your rival a bit. It's a great opportunity for social success, and one that is somewhat unique to higher ed - not every business has a natural rival that fans love to hate.

Well done, Arizona! And GO PILOTS!!!  :)

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