MANHATTAN — When a group of Kansas State athletic officials came up with the idea to turn Bill Snyder’s 16 goals for success into a series of Internet videos, they thought they had discovered a good way to promote the Wildcats’ football program and stir interest for the upcoming season.
It turned out even better.
The finished product – 16 videos that have been viewed more than 220,000 times -- shows how much impact a popular Internet video can make in today’s age of social media. Fans are sharing links to the Wildcats’ athletic web site on Twitter, football ticket sales are at an all-time high and K-State reached such a large audience that it didn’t have to spend much money on TV commercials.
“The 16 videos are so popular that we’ve had people ask us to put them on a DVD,” said Brian Smoller, K-State’s director of Powercat Vision. “That’s not something we anticipated for a series of short promotional football videos. But to have more than one person ask to buy them speaks to the quality of the videos. They are good, and they certainly get you pumped.”
K-State released the videos one at a time over 16 weeks, and excitement built around them. Fans began flocking to the videos, which last about 2 minutes and feature player speeches, highlights and special effects. The videos explain Snyder’s most valued coaching methods while showing the success K-State had last season.
The project has been praised for its production quality, and K-State couldn’t be happier about the response.
“This football team was certainly going to sell tickets and create excitement on its own, but to hear from so many fans about how much they liked it and how much they were looking forward to the next video was pretty cool,” said Scott Garrett, assistant athletic director for tickets and fan strategies.
“We hear all the time from people who see KU football commercials everywhere. I try to tell them we are in a good position where we don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a big TV commercial campaign. We targeted our alumni more directly with a grass-roots approach.”
In the past, K-State athletic director John Currie says that type of effort would have only been possible by sending out glossy pamphlets to donors and alumni through the mail.
By using Internet videos, K-State has been able to reach a wider audience in much less time and for less money.
“One of the neat things about stuff like that is it’s not that expensive,” Currie said. “You think about how much it costs to reach that many eyeballs with the 16 goals thing compared to sending out pamphlets in the mail or using TV commercials … it’s a whole lot cheaper.”
Currie understands the importance of Internet technology, and has placed “a heavy emphasis” on improving K-State’s video and social media capabilities. Money has been poured into the Wildcats’ video department with the creation of their own Internet TV channel, and K-State has a strong presence on Twitter.
It now hopes to turn an idea about 16 goals, first suggested by assistant football video coordinator Josiah Feuerbacher, and a series of videos made by video producer Preston Koerner, into a trend. It wants to spark this kind of reaction every year.
The Wildcats have seen the high reward. Of course, there is also risk. The dilemma all Internet videos face these days is that a bad one can spread even faster than a good one.
Texas A&M ran into this problem earlier this summer when it released a video to commemorate its first day in the SEC. The video featured Aggies students awkwardly acting out cheers of opposing teams, and was so negatively received that Texas A&M football players criticized it on Twitter. The video got so much unwanted attention that it was taken off the school’s website after a few hours.
K-State lived out a similar situation last year when it launched an unpopular recycling video starring an eco-friendly superhero named Ecokat.
Though K-State athletics had nothing to do with that video campaign, it certainly didn’t want to repeat its mistakes.
K-State wanted to make something memorable – in a good way. By all accounts, it has succeeded.
“We live in an age where anything you put out there might be thrown back at you in ways you didn’t anticipate,” Smoller said. “We are always mindful of that. You try to go with something that is identifiable with K-State and understand that you are representing K-State with everything you put on YouTube. You want to put something out that K-Staters can be proud of. The 16 goals videos did that perfectly.”