The first part of this article is about love, happiness and basketball. Suffice it to say that the title tells it all; the Syracuse Orange have made the Final Four in the NCAA Championships! The rest of it is that the “Orange” part refers to both the men’s and women’s teams; that’s something special, and I couldn’t be more proud.

Syracuse University Women's Basketball
Pherit via Compfight

For the women’s team, there are a lot of firsts. They were the first women’s team to make the final 16, then the final 8 and now the final four. They’re also the first women’s team from the state of New York to ever make the final four; now that’s saying something. Now, that only goes back to 1981-82, but still, this is New York, with lots of universities, and it’s taken 34 years for it to happen; ouch!

For the men’s team, the history is a bit different. The team has been in the NCAA championship 38 times, in the final four now six times, in the final game 3 times, won the championship in 2003 (YAY!) and has a 64-37 record.

And every time the men’s team has made it into the Final Four the critics have said they didn’t belong.

I found that little epiphany interesting. Not that the team has never been favored; the men’s team has had some very good players in history and some major talent. Yet it always seemed that, except the year they won it all, the teams that made the final four weren’t replete with spectacular individuals. Maybe one guy was pretty good, but what made them winners was team play that elevated itself at the right time and other teams who weren’t used to playing against the kind of style that few teams other than Syracuse plays. Everyone thinks it should be easy to beat… but it’s not.

Going back to 1975 and this weekend, nothing much has changed… except for the advent of social media. In its own way, it’s both the great equalizer and the great living and growing troll. It’s the one place where a bunch of fans of one team can find each other and glory in the success of the team, while those who hate those teams can also find those fans and troll the heck out of them. And the trolls aren’t relegated to… well, trolls. Critics, aka sports commentators, can hate as well as trolls at this time of year.

It’s pretty amazing stuff overall, and I thought I’d share some of the lessons one can learn when things like this, which is garnering a lot of attention at this time of year (which of course also includes politics since it’s a presidential year; sigh…) are dominating social media.

Looking for adventure
Henrik M F via Compfight

1. It’s nice getting support from people you don’t know.

Part of what I do with marketing on social media is work towards expanding my influence by showing authority and expertise at certain things. I get some attention here and there, but it’s nothing like when there’s something big happening and you find yourself a part of it. Last week’s blog post got a lot of attention, but that pales in comparison to the attention I was able to generate and get this past weekend in promoting my excitement for both Syracuse teams. I spend a lot of time alone, and being able to enjoy something with lots of people I don’t know because they were able to find something I wrote and like it felt pretty cool. Hashtags do work. 🙂

What this tells us is that there are people who are looking to support someone who shares their values. I’ve written in the past how once I started my Twitter marketing campaign how lots of people started adding me to their lists. This is the same kind of thing. Without having to specifically target an audience based on competencies I was able to reach people by using community methods if you will. I had a lot of people add me to lists and some even started following me because of my participating in this event; how neat is that?

2. There’s extraordinary power in being cast as the underdog.

The worst part about social media is having to deal with haters. I personally didn’t have to deal with any of that, but the men’s team did. However, one should never underestimate the power of people doubting you or hating on you. Sometimes people will win or beat you “in spite of” their either not being as bad as you perceive them to be or because that chip in their shoulders is something that must be busted up.

Once again, there’s a sense of community when people agree you in noticing that others are hating on something you support. I put this tweet out there last night:

Just realized that every time the #Syracuse men’s team has been in the Final 4 or championship game critics said they didn’t belong there.

You wouldn’t believe how many times people shared it. I then posted the same thing on Facebook, but expanded it a lot. It got some pretty good attention there also, and that’s with my posting it after midnight, when most of my local peeps have already gone to bed (the wusses lol). It will be interesting to see how well it spread when I finally check on it late tomorrow morning.


3. The haters hate even more when you make them look bad.

I’m not going to say that when I hate a specific team that I don’t go out of my way to hate them. Well, actually I used to do that; these days, I’ll hate them until my teams aren’t a part of it anymore, then I move on. So, hate from people who have a reason to hate (teams one competes against or has a history with) makes sense (I hate Georgetown lol). But hate from those who have no connection to a team? That’s just silly in my opinion. And then, when that teams succeeds, to allow the hate to grow because you were wrong… it just invites more people to come after you, and maybe you feed off that, but it ruins the social media experience for everyone else.

There’s a particular commentator who always seems to hate the Orange for some reason. He was the most vociferous voice against the team making it into the tournament, and even after they’ve made the final four he’s still pretty vociferous. Of course the Syracuse fans have gone after him (I mentioned him but didn’t write to his account) and he’s responded… and it’s not pretty. In my opinion he’s feeding off it instead of just going away or applauding the team for its accomplishments and moving on. Still, he’s a sports commentator so maybe he thinks it’ll make his show more popular; guess we’ll have to see.

I wrote a post where I said that people are going to hate on you anyway so go ahead and do what you want to do. Sometimes the best stimulus you’re going to get isn’t going to come from your supporters but from your detractors. Righteous rage is a good thing as long as it doesn’t make you stray from your goals.

4. Trending; well, that’s something new for me…

Not that I personally was trending, but for a while on Sunday, #Syracuse was in the top 3 on Twitter for trending. At one point it was at #2… and it wasn’t all good. Still, being recognized for something like this, to the extent that people want to talk about you either positively or negatively, is intriguing.

I had my own little bit of impact that was kind of fun. A few times over the weekend I not only tweeted a particular message related to my teams, but I posted the same thing on Facebook; not quite verbatim since I could write something longer on Facebook, but I started with the same premise. I found that those posts generated more likes, shares, retweets and comments than almost anything else I’ve ever posted on either of these two sites.

Here’s the fascinating part. Whereas I expected some of the interaction on Twitter because of the hashtags, I hadn’t expected the upsurge on Facebook. What my thought was is that the word Syracuse had to be affecting Facebook’s algorithm, which can’t tell whether it’s a positive mention or not, and for whatever reason it started showing my posts, and those of others, with that word in the streams of others who maybe normally don’t see your posts. I noticed I was seeing posts from people I almost never see posting anything. I also noticed that even with people whom I’ve kind of sculpted out of my stream that suddenly they were able to see the Syracuse posts, and I only knew that because they were liking those posts.

This proves that if we can find something that’s attracting the attention of a lot of people that we can make ourselves be seen by more people than the norm. That’s not always a great thing, since I keep trying to go out of my way in blocking anything that has to do with this political season, with varying success. So, it was nice that for a few days I saw almost nothing in my Facebook stream talking about any of those folks; maybe I’ll get lucky for another week. lol

Pherit via Compfight

5. We all love a bandwagon to climb on, good or bad

Not hiding anything here; I don’t like Donald Trump. I’m not close to being alone; even people in his own party don’t seem to like him. Yet, those people who do support him are rabid fans, and they’ve found their crowd who seems to be pushing him to the nomination for president of the Republican party, stunning all those Republican pundits who back last summer said Trump’s participation was only a sideshow and that when the primaries came he’d be a non-entity. Remember #2 above?

Although I don’t like politics generally, the one thing that’s fascinating about it is seeing how people will jump on the bandwagon of the flavor of the moment and be willing to jump back off it and onto the next thing at a moment’s notice because suddenly it’s not “hot” anymore. If you have followed politics even at arm’s length since last July, you’ll realize that at one point or another upwards of 7 different people were considered the front runner for the Republican party. That’s not just a crowded house, that’s a basketball team with two reserves.

For the Democratic party, There was one front runner, and she’s still the front runner, but there’s a guy on her coattails that no one outside of his own state even knew about until probably November or December of this year, and he’s making things tougher than expected for her. The other guy has touched some folks positively and a lot of them are jumping onto the bandwagon to support him. Whether it’s ultimately successful or not, it shows the power of a bandwagon.

Those of us who are hoping to make a statement of some kind on social media need to do one of two things. We either find a bandwagon to jump on and hope that everything else we put out can enter into the consciousness of those folk who notice you’re on the bandwagon, or we find a way to create our own bandwagon so that people will talk about us, share our stuff, and get others to join in.

What I noticed last night after the game was over was that some of the people who were liking my stuff or retweeting either what I was saying or sharing were suddenly sharing or retweeting some of my own stuff, which was queued up to go out at specific times throughout the day and night, a couple of those times during and just after both the men’s and women’s games ended. These weren’t people who were initially connected to me either, and that was not only unexpected but rather enjoyable. All it took was my being a part of the Syracuse sports bandwagon while offering something else that some folks felt they could get behind.

This shouldn’t have been totally unexpected. My buddy Joanne Del Balso once talked to a group and told them how she’d gotten 3 clients for her accounting business just by participating in an unofficial Twitter group “chat” of sorts while a TV show was on, and they were all using the hashtag for it. Some folks liked what she was saying, checked out her Twitter profile, then checked out her website, called her and hired her. That fits in well with what I was talking about last week as it pertains to engagement, along with saying that we don’t have to be marketing 24/7 to be effective in attracting people and doing business with them.

There you are, 5 lessons that maybe you’ll find something to learn from. If not… hey, I have two separate teams to root for next weekend in two separate final fours in college basketball; I’m already energized. 🙂

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