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Jarrett Culver wasn’t a McDonald’s High School All-American. He didn’t begin the 2018-19 basketball season with lottery-pick expectations or hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers.

That’s all changed in a big way. Culver led the Red Raiders to this year’s NCAA basketball final and was subsequently taken 6th overall in the NBA Draft. His stock has soared on social media, too. 

Culver began the college basketball season with just over 10 thousand followers on Twitter and Instagram. By July 1, his audience had grown by more than 1100 percent, topping 117 thousand total followers.

  • November 1, 2018 — 10,223 Total Followers
  • July 1, 2019 — 117,718 Total Followers
All-American production and Final Four exposure played a big role in his social explosion. Also integral to Culver’s growth was the athlete-driven strategy executed by Blake Zimmerman and Texas Tech’s social media team.

“This year was a crazy journey. I loved sharing those moments along the way with the fans,” said Culver. “The social team hooked us up with great posts throughout the year, and really helped get me ready for the next level off the court.”

With help from the social team and opendorse, Culver and the Red Raiders roster were handed easy access to publish highlights, post-and-pre-game graphics, and other content tailor-made to help the players engage fans and build their audiences.

#WreckEm

In addition to helping its student-athletes, Tech’s owned channels saw a leap in performance. The @TexasTechMBB Twitter account led all teams in total engagements for the duration of the NCAA Tournament, topping college basketball’s blue bloods, some of which currently have over 20X more followers.

“We dove headfirst into athlete-driven content this year,” said Blake Zimmerman, Texas Tech Director of Social Media. “Players are a program’s most powerful ambassadors. Whether you’re aiming to reach fans or recruits, nobody has a more effective megaphone than the athletes.”

While student-athletes cannot profit from their name and likeness, they can use their time as amateurs to build a brand readymade to maximize value for future opportunities.

“Whether you’re a lottery pick like Jarrett, or going on to grad school — your social brand can be an incredibly powerful tool,” said Zimmerman. “If our players leave Tech with a brand built for success after college, then we’ve done our job.”

 

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