Breaking Down UCF’s Athlete-Driven Domination

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It’s no secret that UCF Football’s brand has blown up.

The team ran the table in 2017, claiming their share of the national title just two years after finishing with a winless record. They nearly did again this year before falling short in the Fiesta Bowl.

From on-field success to off-field execution, the Knights have become a household name and rising star in college athletics. Behind the program’s rise is a brand strategy that has driven some of the top results in college football. Led by Assistant AD of #Content Eric DeSalvo, the team launched a plan to provide UCF fans with unmatched access to the program through its athletes, coaches, and administrators.

“Our success on-and-off the field here at UCF is no fluke,” said DeSalvo. “The foundation has been in place for a while, and Danny White’s vision of being a top-25 intercollegiate athletics program is coming to life every day with his continued investment into our student-athletes, staff, and facilities.”


Launching a people-driven distribution plan

2016 | Getting started

UCF’s #Content team launched its strategy in 2016 to help the program’s stakeholders — coaches, administrators, and athlete alumni  — share team content through their personal social channels.

“It had been a goal of mine to find a way to engage our NFL alumni since our fans interacted at high rates with #content we shared through their channels,” said DeSalvo.

“I finally found the solution when Kelly Mosier gave a presentation at a digital conference in early 2016 on how they used opendorse to engage alumni at Nebraska. I met Blake then, and the rest is history.”

In total, 13 athletes and leaders within the program, including Athletic Director Danny White and then-UCF Head Coach Scott Frost, shared content from UCF through their personal channels in 2016. They were just getting started, but the value was clear.


  • + 71 posts published by athletes and leaders
  • + 1 million impressions
  • + 69 thousand engagements
  • + 85 thousand video views


2017 | Seeing success

With an established plan and buy-in from the program, DeSalvo and the team went to work in 2017. The athlete-driven plan grew beyond alumni, adding student-athletes to the mix for the first time. The players often asked the #Content team for access to visual assets from games and practices to share on their own channels. Now they had the tool and strategy to make it happen.

“That first tweet we shared with Shaquem showcasing the football facilities in MTV Cribs-like fashion is still one of my all-time favorite projects. After he had nearly had 1,000 interactions from that tweet alone, I knew we were on to something big,” said DeSalvo.


  • + 162 posts published by athletes and leaders
  • + 4.85 million impressions
  • + 423 thousand engagements
  • + 519 thousand video views

2018 | Changing the game

If the distribution plan expanded in 2017, it exploded in 2018. UCF’s on-field success and excitement for the future drove adoption from every level of the program. With access to dynamic content, UCF athletes and leaders were building their brands while helping the team reach more fans, more effectively.

“With limited time and resources, efficiency is critical. Using opendorse, 85% of the #content we’ve sent to athletes and others is published to their feed. There is no wasted energy on either side,” said DeSalvo.

Buoyed by their undefeated finish to the 2017-18 season, the #Content team doubled down on helping athletes, coaches, and alumni, even adding Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to the roster.

“Everyone’s a #content creator, but not everyone has the time or means to share it the most impactful way. That’s where our team and opendorse come in to give them an assist in building up their personal brands while helping UCF reach new audiences,” said DeSalvo.


  • +  346 posts published by athletes and leaders
  • + 30.5 million impressions
  • + 3.2 million engagements
  • + 5.7 million video views



Athlete & leader-driven activity

2016 — 71 published posts
2017 — 162 published posts
2018 — 346 published posts

Athlete & leader-driven impressions

2016 — 1 million impressions
2017 — 4.85 million impressions
2018 — 30.5 million impressions

Athlete & leader-driven engagements

2016 — 69 thousand engagements
2017 — 423 thousand engagements
2018 — 3.2 million engagements

Athlete & leader-driven video views

2016 — 85.6 thousand video views
2017 — 519.6 thousand video views
2018 — 5.7 million video views

Athlete & leader publish rate

2016 — 64 percent
2017 — 90 percent
2018 — 88 percent

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