Four years ago, I was working in the marketing dept at Illinois State. My apartment complex in Normal was next door to a Casey's General Store.
Now I'm living in San Francisco 1,460 miles from the nearest Casey's. I hope my wife wants to take a road trip to Atwood, KS this weekend for some convenience store pizza... née General Store pizza.
I've given you more information that you ever wanted to hear, but I am super impressed with Casey's right now. THAT is how you interact with customers using social media. MBA students will be reading case studies someday soon about the time you lunchbanged some Casey's pizza.
We are all witnesses.
- Cory A.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Casey's General Store is a repeating, endlessly carbon-copied landmark of that part of Hoops Nation we refer to as the Valley. You know you're in MVC country when every single gas-food-lodging sign has that little brown, red and yellow barn with the rooster weathervane. For those of us just visiting during the coldest five months of the year, it's a powerful Midwestern symbol that stands for cheap gasoline, friendly service and delicious, greasy-ass pizza. It's not the kind of place I'd expect to have a Social Media Moment -- but halfway through a drive from Chicago to Saint Louis, I did.
There are a lot of "social media experts" out there right now. Personally, I hope there's a level of Dante's hell for them that's close to the one for the "search engine optimization" people. Both are self-imposed titles for folks who are trying to earn comfortable living wages for doing things pretty much anybody can do. SEO's know how to perform Google searches, and SME's can attract attention and awareness by leveraging hashtags and eliciting reactions. It's all well and good and 21st Century and all, but tell me how any of this is supposed to earn companies money. You know, actual money, not some metric projection in a Powerpoint file.
When marketing via social media fails, it fails hard. Most of the bad attempts I've seen have something to do with 40-year-olds trying to communicate to 16-year-olds with edgy buzzwords or remixes or lifestyle branding, or it's a bunch of 25-year-olds trying to square their generational wisdom with old-world lessons they learned in school (or just trying too hard). I believe it's "campaign" mentality that's the problem. This isn't like TV or radio or even banner ads, where you try to get into people's faces and capture their attention. Social media is more powerful when it's passive, not aggressive; reactive, not proactive. It's the difference between the passing, forgettable impression and the Deep Impression.
What does any of this have to do with college basketball? Plenty. We're on Twitter a lot, and we use it for many different purposes (in-game reports on @midmajority, info and links on @midmajority360, game scores on @bbstate and Red Line Upset alerts on @RedLineUpsets, among other uses). None of those are campaigns or efforts to convince; it's there a la carte if it's useful or entertaining to you. We know plenty of folks who are trying for consensus and fake popularity, a road that leads to the lowest common denominator. We're trying to lose the wrong followers and maintain richer relationships with the right ones. I just think that's the right way to do this. So, apparently, does Casey's General Store.
Red Line Upsets
at Montana 71, Oregon State 66 -- When you wish upon a star, Oregon State gets RLU'd. The Beavers currently have the 345th and worst strength of schedule in the entire country, but they haven't done anything with it. Four of their five losses are against the Other 25. In Missoula on a road trip, Montana's tandem of sophomore guard Will Cherry and 6-foot-11 senior Brian Qvale tag-teamed the worst team in the Pac-10 for 49 combined points. Qvale, the only senior on the team, grabbed 18 rebounds. The Griz are now 6-4, and ohmigod is Oregon State bad. Attention George Washington (Dec. 18) and UIC (Dec. 20): get some.
California-Santa Barbara 68, at UNLV 62 -- The visiting Gauchos averaged less than a point per possession (0.94), turned the ball over 25 times and had a +7 foul differential. Not a winning formula, that's for sure. But Tuesday night at the Mack Center, the homestanding Runnin' Rebels shot 29 percent, which won't win you any game, any where, in any kind of consitions. Both of these teams were Big West compatriots until the 1995-96 season, which was the last time UNLV beat Santa Barbara. The Gauchos have won meetings in 2006, 2007 and now 2010.
Game! Of! The! Night!
Texas Southern vs. Texas State Wilkerson Grienes Center - Fort Worth, TX (Neutral Court) 8:00 EST
Robert Hughes is one of thousands of basketball heroes who are little-known outside an hour's drive but whose names resound deeply in a hyper-local area. He was a mid-sized All-SWAC forward in the 1950s who played for Texas Southern and was later drafted by Red Auerbach and the Celtics. In over three decades (1973-2005) as coach of Dunbar High School in Fort Worth, Hughes amassed 1,333 victories. In 2003, he became the winningest high school coach in America. This is the second annual instance of an event named in his honor.
Hughes' alma mater is having its annual early-season pre-SWAC struggle, with a 1-7 record and a four-game losing streak. In previous years, a single win for a team like the Tigers might come at home against a lower-division school like Texas-Tyler or Champions Baptist, but their victory is a RLU at Oregon State. Freshman guard Johnson-Danner has been handling most of the scoring load (16.2 ppg), but 6-foot-8 senior Travele Jones (a second-team preseason all-SWAC'er) missed the first seven games and returned on Sunday to give the Tigers 22 points in a guarantee-game loss at Iowa State. Teams with actual inside-outside combos tend to do quite well in this conference.
As for Texas State, Southland teams know that games against the Bobcats require a swift and temporary adjustment. They play fast as in fast, as in 80 possessions per game fast. It can get them in a lot of trouble, most famously in the 127-126 Black Line overtime loss against Our Lady Of The Lake [angelic choir]. But even at 2-5 and giving up 87.6 points per game, there's hope for conference play. Thanks to the additions of a few trickle-down transfers (like 6-foot-8 ex-Kentuckian A.J. Stewart, 10 ppg/7 rpg), Texas State grabs 63.3 percent of available rebounds, third in the country. Doing something with those extra possessions has been the problem.