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Allan Woodstrom's Marketing Blog

Social Media Marketers should take note of NDSU and March Madness

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North Dakota State president, Joseph A. Chapman wanted his university to become a major research university. As an article this week in the New York Times points out, Chapman saw athletics as a way to broaden NDSU’s exposure on a national level and boy was he right. Did I mention the university located in Fargo, ND had an article about it in the New York Times?

Moving on, Chapman might have never imagined wins in football and basketball over teams from major conferences. He may have also never dreamt that the basketball team would make the NCAA tournament in its first year eligible. But that’s exactly what has happened and the university in all of its departments will become better because of it.

Chapman told the New York Times that since the university moved to division one athletics, “freshman enrollment was up 23 percent, research expenditures had more than doubled, and that the number of Ph.D.’s awarded this year would top 100, a five-fold increase from 10 years ago.”

Social Media Application
This same theory can be applied to social media. If you want to help a company grow though social media, chances are you’ll have to focus content and social utilities on a subject that appeals to a broader audience, not necessarily where the core competencies of the business lie. Much like NDSU used sports to generate awareness and support for other areas of the University.

Take for example one of the largest shoe companies in the world. If all Nike ever talked about was new technologies in shoe making, only some serious runners and engineers might care. On the contrary, they have broadened their reach and audience on social networks by focusing content and online tools on things that the general running public cares about., a running social network, built by Nike allows runners to log their miles run, share their stories, look up local races, get running tips and connect with other runners. Best of all, Nike has made it very simple for runners. As an article in BusinessWeek points out, all runners have to do is plug in the mini ipod that hides in their shoe and everything they did is immediately tracked and uploaded to the Nike website.

The article also points out that since the launch of, Nike has increased its running shoe market share from 48% in 2006 to 61% today. 

To reiterate the point of this article, if companies want to bypass advertising with dying newspapers and radio stations and dive into social media marketing, they have to research what their audience is interested in and deliver. The rest of the business goals will work itself out with added exposure.


Written by Allan Woodstrom

March 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm

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