Temple Athletics revamps media presence

Besides winning games, Temple University Athletics believes prioritizing its digital media brand will contribute to the reconnection with fans.

(From left to right) Andrew Kim, a creative video coordinator, Paige Wisehaupt, the director of creative video, Vaughan Moss, assistant athletics director for branding and digital strategy, and Brian Mermelstein, a creative content assistant, discuss plans for the rest of the basketball season. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When gauging a program’s success, Deputy Director of Temple Athletics Craig Angelos refers ‌to numbers from the 2015-16 seasons. 

During the two-year period, Temple University football engagement was at the highest it’s ever been between fan attendance and ticket sales, he said. They were playing teams like Penn State and Notre Dame, then won the American Athletic Conference championship under former head coach Matt Rhule in 2016.

Temple Athletics wants to refresh its digital brand to reconnect with a larger fanbase that’s been lost the last couple of years. With the recent turnover in staff and coaches, the biggest challenge is gaining back the fans’ trust, Angelos said.

“I’d like to see the fan engagement continue to increase on the social media side, translate into people actually buying tickets and making donations to the program,” Angelos said. 

Since March 2020, Temple Athletics, which has a roughly $35 million budget, has struggled with funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before then, other sources of revenue dipped, like ticket sales, merchandise, television contracts and sponsorship deals, Angelos added. 

“It’s kind of a rebuilding mode as far as trying to rebuild the interest level,” Angelos said. “Get our teams back up to the level that they were before, our donation levels up to the way before, our ticket sales numbers, our sponsorship numbers, merchandising numbers.”

To rebuild the “Temple Tuff” moniker, Temple Athletics hired Assistant Athletic Director and Digital Branding Director Vaughan Moss in October 2021. Moss has implemented new strategies, like motion graphics and multimedia videos, on Temple Athletics’ social platforms, which has increased engagement. 

In his role, Moss oversees two directors of creative video, a director for multimedia and a graphic designer. He also has four photographers and videographers and a few interns on his team. 

Moss also works with Temple Athletic’s communication department to plan out content each week for all 18 sports. Moss and Temple’s sports information directors have access to the teams’ and coaches’ accounts on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter, he said. 

On all four platforms, Moss wants his team to post consistent content, especially for those in season. He also has a set of templates and graphics, so it’s faster to release content, he said. 

When creating a post, Moss likes to build off a player’s performance with a short video recapping a game. 

After Temple men’s basketball defeated the University of Cincinnati 61-58 on Jan. 25, Moss’ group put together clips of not only plays, but the team and head coach Aaron McKie cheering each other on. The post received 309 likes, 54 retweets and 11 quote tweets on Twitter, while also capturing 9,330 views.

Part of keeping the fans engaged is by posting deeper stories and multimedia videos about the players, he said.

“Make sure that everyone understands that’s just another layer of our strategy,” Moss said. “We need to be telling great stories to showcase our student athletes and now with [Name, Image and Likeness], this will help them build their own presence and brand.”

Every month, Moss produces an engagement report for the athletic administration to see the level of traffic from each sports account. Temple Athletics uses analytics provided by the social media platforms, as well as CrowdTangle, a software monitoring tool.  

The report analyzes interactions, likes or comments, on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. For Temple football’s January 2022 report, they gained 603 new followers on Twitter between December 2021 and January 2022. 

Moss also includes comparisons of Temple’s Instagram performance to other teams in the AAC. Temple football’s Instagram account is 6th in total interactions with a 2.78 percent interaction rate. The University of Central Florida is first in total interactions with a 3.18 percent interaction rate. 

“When I talk about constantly posting, it’s really just because of understanding that the algorithms that drive these platforms are really driven by engagement, so if you have more quality content, you’ll get more interactions, which will boost your engagement,” Moss said. 

Out of all the platforms, Instagram has been the most popular outlet for teams regarding consistently high engagement, Moss said. Since last year, interactions for Temple’s football account are up 30 percent, according to the engagement report.

Besides posting effective content to connect with fans, donors and recruits, Moss’ goal is providing each sport with a unique online presence. Since the audience is different for field hockey compared to football, Moss wants to make sure they are capturing a team’s authenticity, he said. 

“Social media has opened up people to our brand,” Moss added. “That’s why what we’re doing is so important. We may have the biggest fan in Alaska, because they saw one game of coach Chaney back in the 90s and they have become a fan ever since, so the only way they can support is by liking, commenting and sharing.”

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