What's the really great thing about following a team? Community. That's what gathers 90,000-plus inside a stadium on a Saturday afternoon, with all energy focused on one goal.
Fans naturally seek each other out, to cheer, to complain, to argue, to share knowledge... but to do it together. That's what has helped BON grow over the last several years. The Interwebs provide great tools for fans to connect. There are three Longhorns Facebook fan pages to visit that are bringing together tens of thousands of Texas fans.
Texas Longhorns Football Page
Direct URL: http://www.facebook.com/TexasHornsFootball
An unofficial Longhorns Facebook page attracting a lot of eyeballs is the "Texas Longhorns Football" fan page run by Arizona high school student Ryan Rash. His page has more than 20,000 fans (with more than 7,000 added since the start of the 2010 football season) who are quite active in posting comments and interacting with each other.
"When I created the page I had no idea it would take off the way it did," Ryan says. "I gained 5,000 fans in the first month, so at that point I really made an effort to update it and market it. I had a company produce an app for the page that has the schedule and the active roster."
Ryan says the page currently has about 8,000 active monthly users and gets roughly 100 to 150 wall posts per week. He says that pages like his give fans an open environment to share opinions in real time. Just this week Ryan and his brother started a Texas Longhorns Basketball page, and they're hoping for a strong March Madness showing by the Hook 'ems to grow the page with an initial surge.
The University of Texas at Austin - Official Page
Direct URL: http://www.facebook.com/UTAustinTX
More than 225,000 people have "liked" the school's official Facebook page. The page links to other UT pages for organizations and schools such as the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center and the UT Austin School of Journalism.
There are plenty of updates - nearly daily - on sports events and various other goings on around campus.
Texas Longhorns - Official Facebook Fan Page of Texas Athletics
Direct URL: http://www.facebook.com/TexasLonghorns
The University of Texas Athletic Department launched the Official Facebook Fan Page of Texas Athletics to coincide with the start of the 2010 football season. Within the first couple weeks, the page already had more than 250,000 "likes." It's up to more than 450,000 likes today - twice as much as the official page of the school.
"Word has spread on its own so far, but we'll be adding links to our website," says Nick Voinis, Senior Associate Athletics Director at The University of Texas. "We'll obviously utilize some other media opportunities. We'll be doing some interesting stuff on it. There'll be news about our sports programs, they'll be news about our tickets and marketing opportunities, and information from our former letter winners."
Currently the page updates fans on game times, ticket sales, press conferences and other events. A post during the season notified fans of a one-day free shipping promotion for online orders from the Longhorns Ltd. official team store.
"We're not going to be rehashing everything that's on TexasSports.com," Nick says. "We want to make this a little different. We'd like for this to help our web traffic, obviously, but we're also talking about a television network. So we're always looking for different and better ways for reaching our constituents."
Oh, and One More...
Did I say three Facebook pages? Can't forget the BurntOrangeNation.com page. Now, we know you have BON as your home page when you launch your browser, and you subscribe to posts via RSS feed to read on your phone, and it's the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to bed, but... "Like" us up on Facebook while you're at it. If for nothing else, so you don't ever miss a thing.
Hook 'em. Always, Hook 'em!