‘Hashtag’ connects the BYU sports world

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The concept of social media just 20 years ago was completely foreign and really unrealized. Now, in 2014, the BYU athletic department has a full-time employee whose job is strictly to be on social media.

Stuart Call gets paid to do what most do to procrastinate homework — tweet, post, like, tag and share.

“My days are pretty much filled with social media,” Call said. “What most people do for fun, I do for work. It’s awesome.”

Call was hired as BYU’s full-time social media coordinator in the summer of 2013. His job description includes running and handling all of the BYU sports social media accounts. Mainly that includes Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for every sports team and every sports-related account.

Call is a fun-loving, light-hearted guy who has a fantastic sense of humor. Some of his coworkers even refer to him as “Hashtag.”

“He’s just the perfect guy for social media,” said Bryce Lake of BYU Athletics marketing, who shares office space with Call. “He’s extremely witty and creative, and you can see that in his posts.”

Call said he has always been creative. He majored in advertising at BYU and worked as a student assistant in the marketing department before graduating in 2012.

“Social media is advertising for the new generation,” Call said. “Majoring in advertising, I feel like, prepared me for the job I have.”

Anyone using social media and paying attention to BYU has seen Call’s work. There is a lot more thought that goes into running social media than anyone would really imagine. Each sports season and each major game, Call has to come up with official hashtags they want fans to use. Whether that be #BYUhoops for everything in basketball, or #BYUvsZAGA for the big game, Call puts in hours looking for the right tags to spread to the fan base.

“It’s something we don’t want to mess up,” Call said. “The trick is to anticipate the way people read into something. We have to come up with the right way to say something so that people don’t read it the wrong way.”

Call was hired from BYU in 2012 to take a position at Ohio State University as its social media coordinator. Call said working at a school like Ohio State prepared him to come back to BYU.

“Ohio State has the largest collegiate social media page in the world, at 1.5 million people on Facebook,” Call said. “Being mentored by the people leading the industry gave me the opportunity to be hired back to BYU and start that here.”

While it may seem like a hobby, the importance of social media in 2014 is greater than ever before. Every school, company, organization, etc., needs to have social media to compete in their industry and build their brand. For companies and organizations with a large following, social media can be a money saver, as it enables them to put out commercials and ads to the masses without having to purchase space or time.

Major companies like Red Bull, Old Spice and Pepsi have used social media to create awareness for their brands, without running traditional commercials. Whether it be the Red Bull extreme sports videos or Pepsi’s “Uncle Drew” videos, each company was able to advertise to its target audience strictly through social media.

Even BYU has tapped into the social media advertising strategy with this year’s BYU basketball Gigg music video series.

“It’s really hard to get something to go viral, but when you can, it can be extremely effective,” Call said. “Having that first Tyler Haws music video go viral, we had some great national attention for our team.”

For BYU, a clean and honest social media presence is of the upmost importance to the image of the school and the mission of the athletic department.

“Social media in the athletic department is a great way to build the brand of BYU Athletics and show the world what we stand for,” said Dan Haslam, a BYU marketing assistant.

For now, Call plans to remain on the third floor of the Student Athlete Building uploading, sharing, posting, liking and tweeting.

“Social media will never go away,” he said. “The mediums can come and go, but social media as a whole will be here forever. My goal is to take what I’ve learned and make BYU the new industry standard.”

 

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