The BCS has been a controversial topic in sports in the sports world since its inception in 1998. Sports writers far and wide have criticized the system in newspapers and TV, and President Obama even spoke out in favor of a playoff system over the BCS. Realizing that millions of fans can now voice their opinion in public forums online, the BCS recently launched a Twitter account and a Facebook page.
I don’t support the BCS system by any means, but I do like what they’re doing by being active in social media. Yes, the BCS is a widely hated brand and difficult for the average fan to comprehend, and having a presence online is surely an open invitation for its opponents to simply channel their fury into another medium. But as Daniel Pregar of The Sports Spectator noted, people were already bashing the BCS online whether the BCS was listening or not. Why not join the conversation and give yourself an opportunity to respond to the critics and (attempt to) explain the muddled system that is the Bowl Championship Series? Any social media expert will tell you that you can’t simply ignore negativity surrounding your brand online. The best thing to do is use it is an opportunity to correct misconceptions and tell your side of the story.
According to Pregar, another benefit of the BCS’ Twitter account is that many of its 3,000+ followers have the power to influence the public’s opinion of the system. Journalists, PR practitioners, and marketers are just a few of the constituent groups who follow @INSIDEtheBCS. While tweeting likely won’t change many opinions of the BCS, it can make the organization more transparent and conversational with its publics.
The BCS also uses its account to point out the fact that while the majority is pushing for a playoff system, there is sparse agreement on how exactly the playoff would work. They post links to credible sportswriters who support the BCS and/or discuss the problems with a potential playoff system. At the same time, they don’t seem to be aggressively criticizing of their opponents; one commenter on an Advertising Age article has been following @INSIDEtheBCS and says that the dialogue has been “much more civil” than he expected and that the BCS’ tweeter is doing a good job by not being defensive. I find that impressive, especially considering the amount of criticism the BCS must face on Twitter.
I don’t think the BCS will sway many opinions by using social media. As Jeremy Mullman of Advertising Age put it, “it’s not the medium, it’s the product.” But I do think social media is a step in the right direction. It provides personality and transparency for an otherwise lifeless organization, while also giving it a chance to respond to unavoidable negativity online.