Friday, April 1, 2011

Butler Blue 2 is making a big splash in social media

As a proud Butler University alumna whose desk is decorated with plenty of BU paraphernalia, I wrote a new post for my company's blog today that highlights some of the great work BU is doing on the social media front. I'm by no means an objective author, but don't hold it against me!

Lucky dog knows how to leverage the power of social media

Butler Blue 2, Butler University’s charismatic English Bulldog mascot, has embraced national-celebrity status and is putting his personality to work in promoting the University. What began several years ago as a blog and collection of cute videos has now become a top-notch integrated social-media campaign that is engaging fans – including potential students and donors – around the country.

He blogs. He Tweets. He connects with fans on Facebook. He has his own photo stream on Flickr. A live webcam allows fans to check in on him during the day while he’s at work. He even has his own channel on YouTube.

Blue 2 first earned national attention when Butler surprised the nation by becoming the Cinderella team of last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. With the tournament being held in Indianapolis that year – Blue 2’s hometown – he was able to easily attend the games, as he does regularly on campus at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Fast forward 11 months, and the NCAA ruled that he would not be allowed to attend this year’s early-round games. The rule says no live mascots are allowed in the first few rounds. A maelstrom of fan disappointment ensued, and the University communications team admirably leveraged that support. They created Blue 2 masks for fans to print out and wear to the game to show their support of their mascot, protest his exclusion, and allow Blue 2 to be there in spirit.

When Butler made it into the Final Four, the NCAA decided he would be allowed to travel to Houston to participate in the festivities and support his team. In the spirit of a true celebrity, Blue 2 shared the announcement with his 4,500+ followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Local and national media alike have jumped on board, interviewing him (and his “dad”, Michael Kaltenmark, Director of Web Communications), covering his 7th birthday party thrown by the University, even following him through his pre-travel pampering session (which included a bath and pedicure). National entertainment-network TMZ has even been profiling the happy dog’s movements. (ESPN's Kenny Mayne doesn't appear to be a fan, but he's one of the very few.)

Butler’s marketing efforts during March Madness have extended well beyond Blue 2, though he has arguably become the University’s second-most sought-after spokesperson, er, dog, following members of the basketball team, of course. After each win, alumni received eblasts within hours that included printable posters (to show your spirit at the office), trivia contests for prizes, viewing-party information, and an invitation to send fan photos that would be shared through the various alumni social-media accounts. Word has it that the students who man the school’s telemarketing efforts have been especially active this week, too, looking to capitalize on the spirit and capture monetary support for the University.

Kudos to Butler University for embracing these opportunities and using it to promote the school. They’re showing what a truly integrated marketing campaign can do for an organization, and we could all learn something by following along.

Butler Blue 2 has managed to master social media, and he doesn’t even have thumbs.

(And I can’t finish this without saying GO BULLDOGS!)

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