Social Studies: Duke's David Bradley On Zion's Impact, Coach K
Last season for the Duke men's basketball team is one that will likely never be replicated thanks to the phenomenon that was Zion Williamson. Having a star player of his magnitude could have easily drowned out the rest of the team, which had two other top-10 NBA draftees. That was the balancing act for Duke men's basketball Creative Dir David Bradley (@DukeMBB). Bradley said, "With Zion, one of the biggest challenges and one of the things we are always thinking about is you can't just post what would do the best. You are representing a team -- so you're wanting to showcase all of your players." Bradley said while the metrics vary for what one considers success, there are also micro-level success stories that drive home the impact of social content. Bradley said Duke built its "Brotherhood" sub-brand around the program as a way to incorporate former players prior to Williamson. Bradley: "He puts the hat on and says, 'I'm going to join the brotherhood of Duke University.' Whatever he said about Duke is great, but this is a recruit noticing something we've done mostly through social media. You are not going to have a bigger win than that."
How Duke's content is different:
The consistency of it over time stands out. The level that we are able to inject our players' personalities stands out. The overall quality of the content in general stands out thanks to the talents of our content creators we have had over the years.. We have great resources and buy-in from the coaches and Coach K, as well as the access we get. That gives us an advantage over everyone else in college basketball.
Coach K's buy-in:
Early on in my career, I worked hard to earn his trust. He wants to give talented people the green light and not get in the way too much. For me, it was understanding what the best language is, what's the best way to deliver this to Coach in a way he understands without bogging him down. Over time, it was figuring out the recipe; what kind of metrics, what success stories can I share, how do I do that with Coach. While Coach and his team never got close to setting up a public presence on Twitter for him, he follows everything closely through "ghost" accounts. He's able to stay in tune with former players and everything we're doing on our team accounts. He's very savvy with it. Probably no surprise there.
That has changed over time. Even three years ago I might have said Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all equal. But going into a season, you want to plan around what is going to be your priority, and Instagram exploded ahead of all social platforms for us. If you are looking just at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, probably 75-80% of our video views, of our impressions, our engagement is coming from Instagram.
Planning around Zion:
One thing that was unique with him is that ESPN tried to cover every game. Every night the lights were on. We were just well positioned because of how our creative team is set up. We didn't have to do anything different, so we were ready for it if something were to happen. We were going to be there to cover it with two great video guys and an awesome photographer along with me. Most college basketball programs don't have that commitment from their head coach to cover a team like that. I became wide open to his potential during a foreign tour in August in Canada. He dunked from the foul line at an open practice and that just exploded. That was the first eye-opener for us. One, he can do crazy stuff and two, when he does the crazy stuff, it's going to get picked up by everyone.
We're seeing all this conversation about the athletes monetizing their image and likeness, and if that becomes a thing, what I do and anyone in my line of work does becomes even more important, more a part of the recruiting process because social media maybe becomes the No. 1 way to do that.