Meet the Voice of @UMBCAthletics, Zach Seidel

You may know Zach Seidel as the Director of Multimedia Communications for UMBC Athletics. Or, you may not know him at all because he’s, well, the Director of Multimedia Communications for UMBC Athletics.

But while the Retrievers were busy making history by knocking off off top-seeded Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, Zach did what many social media professionals have spent their entire careers trying to do.

On the night of the game, Zach’s snarky, care-free attitude captured the attention of thousands, if not millions, following along on their second screen. Whether he was tweeting digs at Seth Davis (who Sharpied Virginia in as the winner a bit too early) or quipping about cookies, Zach managed to engage an audience. Soon after, @UMBCAthletics grew to have over 100,000 followers. By comparison, Penn State Athletics (@GoPSUSports) has just 90,000.

 

As social media professionals can learn a lot from Zach. There are too many sports accounts that produce the same content over social that you can see on the play-by-play. But following his tweets during the game was like watching with your drunk buddy. His content made a personal connection. He took risks. He was social.

In many ways, he perfectly encapsulated what UMBC did on the court.

I recently had a chance to talk to Zach. I wanted to learn more about where he found the inspiration for his voice and what it meant for UMBC.

His strategy, or lack-there-of, and how it led to his voice

My whole plan was that there was no plan, haha. I just wanted to have fun with the moment, and just followed the lead of some of the best sport team accounts out there (LA Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies). Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. By the start of the second half I figured most people were somehow watching the game. With the March Madness app and TV’s in every store it’s impossible not to be able to watch games, so I shifted my focus to make the account more of a supplement to the game. Interacting with fans like I was just sitting next to them watching the games, was my goal and I think that’s what made it so popular.

On the value of the team’s success and his success on Twitter to the UMBC athletics brand

Let’s be clear, the Twitter doesn’t take off without the guys on the team doing all the heavy lifting, they are the ones who one the game, I’m the one with a horrible jump shot. That night was so much of a whirlwind, but it generated so much publicity for the school that it can’t be measured. It’s not just the department that has benefitted, it’s the school as a whole. I guess we will find out more when applications come in, haha.

On the reaction of the UMBC athletic department to his Twitter success

I’d say almost every person who has talked to me about it has given me positive feedback. Whether it was bosses, co-workers, people in school administration and people in athletics administration, it was just about all positive.

Whether team accounts should adopt a similar strategy for in-game tweeting

The point of social media is to be social, not just be another place to put out statements and give play-by-play. The Twitter generation craves interaction, so give it to them… just try your best to ignore the trolls!

What he’d say to Seth Davis if the two were ever in the same elevator

Floor 16. Sharpie. #

 

You also might enjoy 4 Social Strategy Lessons from Dan LaTorraca and the @BrooklynNets

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