[Guide] The Social Media Management Maturity Model

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University of Connecticut

How University of Connecticut optimized their social media efforts and went viral with Brandwatch

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CASE STUDYUniversity of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is one of the top-ranked public schools in the US. They have a vibrant campus culture and bright, fun and engaged students, faculty, staff, and alumni - and their social media presence reflects that. The University has multiple social media managers to represent different departments, but they all have the same goals:

  • Represent UConn on social
  • Drive engagement among students and alumni
  • Show off the school's big public wins

With Brandwatch social media management suite, the team collaborates easily across departments to present a fantastic and consistent school image.

The Challenge

The UConn team had a lot of challenges with their social media setup. They needed four different social media management platforms to handle their main accounts and daily tasks of social media publishing, community management, social listening, and analytics.

With this setup, social media managers had to work out of at least four different tabs, checking for incoming messages and social trends before refreshing each tab and starting all over.

They used Google spreadsheets to track planned posts and social KPIs, which needed constant manual upkeep.

Plus, different departments at UConn have different social representatives. Without a centralized platform, this meant that messaging was extremely difficult to unify across the entire school. The social team knew they needed to find a tool that would help them manage all their social media work from one place. They found right solution in Brandwatch.

"Handling social with several clunky, disparate tools was a nightmare. Now that we have Brandwatch, we have so much more time in the day to focus on creating great content instead of toggling between social tools."
— Emily Zangari, Director of Digital Content and Strategy

The Opportunity

As soon as the social team at UConn started using Brandwatch, they knew they'd found their one-stop-shop for social. Brandwatch replaced the team's four different tools, letting them handle all social media activities from one unified hub instead.

A few features stood out right away. With Brandwatch's campaign planner, the social team could control messaging across networks to make sure it's cohesive. In the Engage tool for community management, they could share incoming messages with one another, tag messages, and sort through crowded DM feeds. The UConn team even took their social media journey a step further by using the Listen module. As the pandemic hit - forcing staff to leave the campus - the UConn social team noticed a great opportunity in user-generated content (UGC). With Brandwatch's social listening tool, they could easily find top-notch UGC from current students and repost it on their main channels to show off an accurate depiction of the UConn student life. This helped prospective students and parents to get a real understanding of the UConn college experience from social media.

Using Listen was also an inspiration for UConn to invent a content idea and translate it into a unique social media challenge.

The Result

Brandwatch empowered UConn by providing them with a centralized platform that helped with the organizational challenges they were facing around social media. This saved them time and let them focus on their core work to produce relevant content and engage with the student community.

Brandwatch's Listen tool also inspired UConn to create a viral campaign called the 'Hot Sauce Challenge'. It took UConn Nation by storm, starting with the men's basketball team's victory over Marquette on January 5, 2021. With the game not looking promising for UConn at halftime, alumnus Bryan Jackson (@Bpenfield) took to Twitter to proclaim that he would do a shot of hot sauce if the Huskies won. The team did go on to win, and Jackson, a Husky of his word, posed a video of him taking a shot on Twitter. And so, a movement was born.

The challenge immediately caught on and spread outside the university, with people all over the world taking part in it. Because the UConn team uses Brandwatch's Listen tool to track brand mentions on social, they noticed the challenge gained momentum right away and made sure to link UConn to this fun trend. The social team reposted Hot Sauce Challenge videos along with the original tweet from Bryan Jackson.

They even got their then-University's President in on the fun! UConn's former President Katsouleas went on the UConn social channels and drank hot sauce to raise money for the Husky Ticket Project - a non-profit that helps Connecticut youth experience UConn Athletics. This shows off both the fun and charitable sides of the UConn brand.

Without Brandwatch's social Listen tool, the UConn team wouldn't have been able to catch the trend in time and use it to land a huge branding win for the University.

Since January 2021, the 'Hot Sauce Challenge' trend has more than 31.1M impressions, 18.74K engagements, and 2.25K mentions. It was featured in national publications USA Today, the Washington Post, and NY Post. Popular TikTok influencers also joined in on the fun.

Impressed by Brandwatch's varied social management functionalities, UConn has now got their other departments - including athletics - on the platform as well.

"Brandwatch is a dream platform. It really does everything we need on social, from simple publishing to advanced social listening"
— Jason Reider - Social & Emerging Media Manager

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