Monday, December 10, 2012
When listing the crown jewels of college football, the University of Michigan’s “Big House” must be included in any discussion. Known throughout the country for its colossal seating capacity of 100,000-plus, it is truly one of the historic monuments in the world of football. However, “The Big House” pales in comparison to the magnitude that is the Michigan Football Facebook page.
In the arms race created by Facebook's popularity, sports teams - both professional and amateur - have taken to social media as a way to engage fans. However, on December 5, 2012, history was made when Michigan Football became the most popular college football Facebook page in history with an astonishing 1,000,000 fans. Below is a small sample of Michigan’s dominance on Facebook compared to teams of similar stature:
- Louisiana State University is within shouting distance at 825K, but still has some ground to make up.
- With 381K fans, the University of Alabama is not nearly as dominant in social media as they are on the field.
- Notre Dame sits at 331K fans, but will look to boost that number if they win a national title in January.
- Rival Ohio State University may hold the upper hand on the field, but with only 242K fans, the battle for Facebook is no competition.
- The tradition-rich University of Texas has a grand total of... 3,685 fans. Not a mistake. That’s it.
However, Michigan’s ascent toward 1,000,000 fans did not come without some work. The program held a number of promotions and giveaways to help boost their numbers, offering such perks as club seats, pregame sideline passes, and even season tickets.
Clearly, it paid off.
You're probably asking yourself, "How important is it really to have 1,000,000 fans on Facebook? Isn’t Michigan football already a well-established entity?"
But Michigan has not rested on the laurels of past glory, instead striving to stay atop the food chain. Despite a lackluster record over the past five seasons (34-28), the team still ranks among the college football elite, both financially and in popularity.
After compiling analysis from Equality in Athletics, the Memphis Business Journal ranked the University of Michigan as the seventh-highest revenue earning school in collegiate football in 2010 with over $70 million. In 2011, the football program was named by Forbes.com as the fifth most valuable team in the sport, estimated at $94 million.
With 11 national championships, 42 conference championships, and one of the largest venues in all of sports, the University of Michigan has the tradition and appeal to sustain droughts of success on the football field. However, this is a perfect example of why teams looking to elevate themselves to the level of Michigan should not rely solely on their team’s performance.
The foundation of Michigan football runs much deeper than the team’s wins and losses; it is entrenched in the fans and community. But a community must be treated as an ever-growing collection of fans that has no limit. Michigan understands this, and it shows.
Congratulations, Michigan, on reaching this historic milestone. You have now been immortalized in the pantheon of social media.
Looking for tips to help grow your Facebook audience? Check out the Field Guide to Facebook Marketing.