The Oregon Ducks made a big splash in the social pond Wednesday, launching what appears to be college sports' first digital media command center to track chatter and push content across a variety of platforms.
[More from Mashable: Heartwarming Photo of a Man and His Dog Has Facebook Users Smiling]
Located deep in the bowels of Oregon's Autzen Stadium, the so-called QuackCave serves as a hub for all of the athletic program's social communications. Staffers will distribute digital storytelling and promotional content through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other networks. They'll also monitor fan conversation to answer question and interact with passionate followers.
Oregon has one of college sports' largest and most engaged social media followings with more than 475,000 fans on Facebook and Twitter combined. The top-ranked football team, in particular, regularly plays in high-profile, nationally televised match-ups, drawing the attention of celebrity social media users. The QuackCave will help the program better leverage the national spotlight that athletic success and successful traditional marketing efforts have attracted, says Andy McNamara, who oversees the athletic department's social media accounts.
[More from Mashable: ‘World’s Cutest Dog’ Boo’s Mom Works at Facebook]
"This gives us a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on that secondary PR from people who are influencers, and not let it slip by if someone like LeBron James mentions us," McNamara told Mashable.
Athletic department officials began kicking around the idea for a social command center last spring, inspired in part by temporary setups used by events such as the Super Bowl and the permanent digital command center used by the NHL's New Jersey Devils.
In late April, senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens sent out a tweet reading, "Are there any UO Interior Architecture majors that follow? We have a top secret project for you. #GoDucks." Graduate students Anna Miron and Miranda Lee responded, and designed the one-room facility, pictured above. They were inspired in part by design at the nearby campus of Nike, which has a strong connection to Oregon sports.
The command center, which will share news and content from outlets including the @GoDucks and @QuackCave Twitter accounts, is currently manned during workday hours by a rotating cast of students and athletic department staff. As the popular football and basketball seasons get underway, though, it will be staffed more often.
McNamara says Oregon's large and engaged social media following made launching a digital command center a "no brainer" -- but don't be surprised to see other major sports schools follow suit in the coming months and years.
Do you think Oregon's QuackCave will remain an anomaly in college sports, or will other universities implement their own social command centers?
This story originally published on Mashable here.