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Volume 20 No. 42
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Libro, Eccker create S3i Digital

Agency will help colleges target their messaging through their social media

During John Libro’s 11 years at Van Wagner, he repeatedly heard clients asking for more effective digital and social media platforms.

When Libro left Van Wagner in February, those requests stuck with him and led to several late-night conversations with a longtime friend, Randy Eccker, who had an extensive digital background, including the launch of the SEC Digital Network.

Eccker and Libro decided to create a company designed to improve the digital and social experience for brands, teams and events, while returning to clients a deeper base of information about their fans and followers. What evolved is S3i Digital, a New York-based company that has come out of the gates with four university clients — California, Maryland, Rutgers and St. Joseph’s.

One of S3i Digital’s primary services will be working with the schools to streamline their social media branding, while also providing fan behavior trends so that schools can better target the messaging. The company also will work with brand marketers, such as Cloudbreak Group, a New York Yankees’ licensing partner, and Aspen Dental.

For schools like Rutgers and Maryland that are joining the Big Ten, expanding the brand and reaching out to the fan base has never been more important, their administrators say.

“We’ve been thinking quite a bit about how we interact digitally, well before the move to the Big Ten came along. But now we’re going into it with a lot more thought and strategy behind our messaging,” Nathan Pine, Maryland’s deputy athletic director, said of the new relationship with S3i. “We want to be more of a national presence and we want to improve our brand and our recognition.”

“All schools are facing the challenge of how you manage all of your social media,” said Doug Fillis, Rutgers’ senior associate AD, administration.

With the rush to be relevant on social media in recent years, many schools flooded the zone with multiple Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for their many teams and departments The result has been a mishmash of looks that don’t provide any consistency, and scattershot messaging that all too often doesn’t find a targeted audience.

“The idea is to develop campaigns for these brands and properties that engage fans in much more relevant ways,” Eccker said. “The real opportunity with social media is to target certain information for the people who are interested in that content. The more you can target the content, the more meaningful it will be.”

While CEO at XOS Digital, Eccker developed college contacts who are providing some early success for his latest venture.

Eccker, who is S3i Digital’s CEO and chairman, knew Pine and Maryland AD Kevin Anderson from years of working in the college space. Libro, who oversaw Van Wagner’s college accounts, including the Allstate field goal nets program, carries the title executive vice president and general manager.

Eccker and Libro are working with these schools and other clients to better organize and target their social media outreach.

Through S3i’s technology, which Eccker didn’t want to detail, the company will be able to determine more about each school’s fan base, their ticket buyers, their donors, their graduates and other segments to create more targeted messages for specific audiences, rather than broad blasts of content.

“We need the fan intelligence,” Fillis said. “We need to get all of the information we have on our alumni, our faculty, our donors, into one repository. We’ll get back some tremendous information on fans who buy tickets, who buy merchandise, who go to bowl games.”

And for Rutgers’ other partners, such as multimedia rights holder Nelligan Sports or ticketing agent Aspire Group, “We think there will be incremental revenue in that, too,” Fillis said.