STILLWATER – The newest branch of Oklahoma State Athletics is nearing its one-year anniversary after a busy and highly successful first year of operation.
In July of 2021, OSU’s first-year athletic director Chad Weiberg formed OSU’s creative services department as a part of a strategic effort to boost OSU’s digital and social media presence. That endeavor led to some staggering stats from the program’s 11 months.
The new department has added multiple photographers, videographers and graphic designers and matched them up with the vision of the communications and marketing staffs to construct a plan to maximize the coverage and exposure of OSU’s student-athletes, teams and events.
Creative staffers were on the field for Cowboy football’s Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame, when the equestrian team celebrated its first national title, when Cowgirl softball won the Big 12 Championship and hundreds of events in between. OSU photographers shot over 1,000 studio photo shoots with Cowboy and Cowgirl student-athletes and recruits, and the graphics team created the design work that celebrated every victory in 2021-22.
The bulk of the photos and videos are shared with OSU student-athletes through the department’s partnership with INFLCR to allow each Cowboy and Cowgirl to grow their unique brand, which is key in this new world of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) in college athletics. OSU ranked among the top-5 nationally in the amount of artwork shared and downloaded by its student-athletes.
OSU Athletics and its various sports published 33,586 posts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in 2021-22, and nearly all of them featured artwork from a Creative Services staffer. About 1.7 million people follow OSU Athletics across its various social media platforms and accounts, including 196,000 new followers since Aug. 1.
For the 2021-22 seasons, OSU Athletics social media accounts set new records with 730 million impressions (the number of times a post is seen) and 38 million engagements (interactions with a post), which represented a jump of 89 percent and 52 percent respectively, over 2020-21. Those accounts racked up 155 million video views in 2021-22 – a new record and a jump of 491 percent over last year.
According to OSU consultants, Cowboy Football received over $59 million in earned media value during the 2021 season, and the team’s social media exposure was valued at over $4.4 million alone. Nationwide, Cowboy Football’s Instagram ranked second nationally in interactions per follower, and its 24 percent follower growth ranked among the top-10 in the country.
Cowgirl Softball advanced to the Women’s College World Series for a third straight season in 2022, and was able to capitalize on the stage like never before. During the four-month season, the team registered 63 million social media impressions, a jump of 51 percent from the previous season, and six million video views – 159 percent more than 2020-21. Prior to this season, no Cowgirl softball squad had ever reached three million engagements, but this year’s squad topped 4.2 million. It all led to a follower increase of 38,295 across all platforms.
Nearly 31,000 people started following Cowboy baseball this season – 647 percent more than the team’s follower growth from 2020-21. The team produced 117 million impressions and 6.9 million engagements, which are both team records and represented jumps of 329 percent and 265 percent, respectively. The team’s followers also watched 315 percent more video views than last season.