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Volume 26 No. 27
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Social Studies: American Cornhole League Eyes Growth

The American Cornhole League (@Iplaycornhole) last year saw itself under the spotlight of an ESPN2 broadcast on July 4, and it returns to the net with its fourth and final national tournament of the season this Independence Day. It is a big stage for a sport that is often synonymous with cookouts and tailgates. ACL Media Dir Trey Ryder said, “We offer something that not many other sports leagues can offer, and that is a refreshing take on something. We are an outlet that doesn’t take itself seriously, and we believe we are the next great professional sport. At the same time, we are able to embrace our quirkiness. One of our goals, and we are going to do it through social media outreach, is to become an Olympic sport one day.”

SOCIAL SNAPSHOT
Must-follow:  My New England sports athletes like Tom Brady are a must-follow for me. Plus, I went to Clemson and we had a national championship this year.
Favorite app: I love my Reddit app for a variety of different reasons. I stay pretty glued to my Rivals app to stay keep up with college football recruiting.

Average time per day on social media: On my own personal account, about an hour or two a day. I probably spend an additional two hours or so periodically checking cornhole.

Social media to grow the game:
A big portion of our social media when we started was just to get information out there. We have evolved a lot since then. It’s blossomed into a strategic plan. We reach a lot of people with our videos;we have a lot of videos that go viral. You see the ESPN logo and people are sharing it and liking it with comments like, “I can’t believe this is on ESPN. This is crazy.” Sometimes that crazy is positive or negative, but either way people are really starting to see it more often. The more we are on TV and posting these clips to social media, they are recognizing some of the faces, they are developing their fanhood or maybe even hatred toward players.

Building a following:
We have had a lot of success initially on Facebook. The reason we have been very successful with that is because of the live streaming features Facebook has. When we first started, we found ourselves growing very quickly on Facebook with Facebook Live. People were getting to our page because we were live. The challenge we currently have is expanding our other outlets as a primary focus like Twitter and Instagram. It’s about really trying to reach younger audiences and relate to them. We have been making a hard push on Instagram Stories, and during our ESPN broadcasts, we have staff members look for the word “cornhole” in it. If someone tweets something, we give them a sarcastic, funny response that engages them into a conversation.

Finding inspiration:
In some aspects, we try to model ourselves after some of the big sports leagues. We are trying to profile our players, deliver results and what’s happening around the league. We are trying to provide information to our players who view cornhole as a serious sport. At the same time, we have to understand that cornhole is unique; it is a sport that anyone can play and anyone can win. That’s sort of our tagline. Because of that, it doesn’t entirely need to be treated like a professional sport. There’s room to be playful. There’s room to have fun.

Working with partners to create content:
It can be complicated, but the good news is with our production team at Raycom, which helps produce our broadcasts, many times we are able to get all of our video content immediately. When it comes to sponsors, a lot of times it’s working with individual ad agencies and a lot of the creative content is based on certain events. For example, we have a Devour Man of the Year competition. We are going to give away $10,000 and free pizza for a year to a winner of 32 male ACL pros competing in a single-elimination bout.

What comes next:
We need to grow our Twitter and Instagram following. Part of that obstacle is being verified on Twitter and Instagram. We’ve gone through numerous applications to get that little check mark. That means the world because it opens up doors to interactions with celebrities. Another part of our initiative is to grow our charity brand. We think cornhole can be the next great charity sport. It’s getting up there in followers for our Twitter and Instagram pages because that’s really what the future holds.

If you know anyone who should be featured for their use of social media, send their name to us at jperez@sportsbusinessdaily.com.