Nov 17, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats athletic director Mitch Barnhart on the sidelines during the game against the Samford Bulldogs at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

#BBN First? Come Again?


Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, April 21, University of Kentucky  Athletics Director, Mitch Barnhart announced an initiative to improve the fan experience of the Big Blue Nation as well as spell out the athletics department’s commitment to compete for championships in all sports across the board.  Barnhart labeled this initiative “BBN First” and has asked the Big Blue Nation to use the Twitter hashtag “#BBNFirst” as a method to provide feedback to himself and the athletic administration. This is a great idea, but a poor marketing job at marketing.

If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, hastags are used by users to help group various tweets under a single, searchable tag. For instance, when the Wildcats are playing, most Kentucky fans religiously use the hashtag “#BBN.” Typically, because of the fanaticism of Kentucky fans, the #BBN hashtag and others related to UK trend nationally when the Cats are playing (items like “Calipari,” “Cats,” “Harrison”). As far as fan bases go, the Big Blue Nation is not only large, but they are,  collectively, pretty savvy with using social media. Head men’s basketball coach John Calipari has over 1 million Twitter followers and last year was listed in Sports Illustrated’s top 100 sports personalities to follow on Twitter. And with that in mind, there’s no doubt that Mitch Barnhart would want to tap into that with his “BBN First” campaign.

The thing about social media is, the best hashtags are organic. They just happen. There’s no marketing campaign behind them. That’s why Wildcat fans use the simple “#BBN.” It’s simple. It’s easy and it makes sense.  When the University of Louisville athletic department decided to roll out the hashtag “#L1C4″ a few years ago, there was much confusion. What did it mean? Would people use it? Was it some new strain of the bird flu that the Centers for Disease Control was warning us about? Cardinal fans have had to put up with with deserved ridicule for such a ridiculous ploy. It doesn’t make any sense. And now, neither does “#BBNFirst.” Who’s going to use it besides those that are going to mock it? I just don’t see this trending for the purposes the brass at the UK Athletic Department have intended.

Again, I love the idea of the Barnhart and company reaching out to get the fans even more engaged, but #BBNFirst ? I’m not sure that idea is top notch.

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