In the Southeast, college football is venerated and beloved. The head coaches of the football programs of a state’s flagship institutions are arguably the most influential people in a state. In 7 of the 10 Southeastern states, the highest paid public employee is the football coach at a public university.
The head football coach at a Southeastern public university has a very high profile. The coach is either praised or vilified depending on the outcome of a Saturday game. Successful football coaches in the South have enormous political capital that could translate to public office. However, many such as former UGA head football coach Vince Dooley, who considered a bid for U.S. Senate in 1986, decline to pursue a career in politics.
In today’s age of ESPN and round the clock media coverage of Southeastern football, many across the country can name a Southeastern state’s football coach, while not knowing the state’s Governor. For example, Nick Saban, the head football coach at the University of Alabama has high name recognition across the nation. Yet, how many can name the State of Alabama’s, current Governor, Robert Bentley?
However, in today’s new media environment, social media can level the playing field. Does the notoriety, celebrity and wealth of Southeastern football coaches translate into the social media space? Or are there Governors who are social media savvy enough to outpace the head football coaches in their state? Arc 3 performed an analysis of the Klout Scores and number of Twitter and Facebook followers for 10 Southeastern Governors and the head coaches of the collegiate football programs in their state. Here are a couple of Southeastern Governors whose social media prowess outpaces their football programs:
1. Governor Rick Scott (Klout Score 84): The first term Governor of Florida has over 40k followers on Twitter and 85k likes on Facebook. A successful entrepreneur before becoming Governor, he is credited with reducing the state’s unemployment rate from 11 percent to 7 percent. In the social media sphere he outpaces University of Florida Head Football Coach Bill Muschamp (Klout Score 65), Florida State University Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher (Klout Score 27) and University of Miami Head Football Coach Al Golden (Klout Score 64). According to PeekAnalytics, Governor Scott has 156 times the social pull on Twitter as the average user. Social pull is a good measure of how influential an account’s audience is compared to the average Twitter user. Governor Scott’s social media prominence will be an asset as he runs for re-election in 2014 in the very competitive state of Florida.
2. Governor Pat McCory (Klout score 69): The recently elected Governor of North Carolina is social media savvy with over 18k followers on Twitter and over 47k likes on Facebook. A former Mayor of Charlotte, the pragmatic Governor has made economic development a focal point of his administration with some notable results. Forbes Magazine recently recognized North Carolina as having the nation’s 4th best business climate. As an excellent marketer for his state, he outpaces socially the head football coaches for both the University of North Carolina, Larry Fedora (Klout Score 62) and North Carolina State University, David Doreen (Klout Score 62). According to PeekAnalytics, on average, each of Governor McCory’s twitter followers has 631 connections across all social media platforms to make for a strong audience reach.
3. Governor Nikki Haley (Klout Score 84): With over 64k Twitter followers and 54k likes on Facebook, Governor Haley is a social media powerhouse. The daughter of Indian immigrants, the Governor was a speaker at the 2012 RNC Convention and is one of her party’s rising stars. The Governor’s social media prowess outpaces her state’s football program accounts, Clemson Football (Klout Score 66) and University of South Carolina Football (Klout Score 68). The head of the football programs for the respective schools, Dabo Swinney of Clemson and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, have both demurred from Twitter usage, but their chief assistants have taken up the mantle. Governor Haley outpaces these top assistants, Chad Morris (Klout Score 51) and Jeff Scott (Klout Score 58) of Clemson and Steve Spurrier, Jr. (Klout Score 82) and G.A. Mangus (Klout Score 49) of South Carolina. Running for re-election in 2014, Governor Haley has 200 times the social pull on Twitter as the average user according to PeekAnalytics. In addition, each of Governor Haley’s twitter followers has 1,578 connections across all social media platforms, which makes her audience reach 3.8 times the average twitter user.
The majority of head football coaches in the Southeast outranked their Governors in social media prowess. A head football coach’s success is largely based on his ability to recruit key players, and social media has become an important part of the recruiting process. Today’s players are now the first generation to have been born into the internet age. Social media is a vital way to reach and persuade them. The Governors of the states of Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina have recognized the power of social to recruit voters and market their states. It is no coincidence that these three Governors are also rising stars in their party. These Governors understand and appreciate the power of social media to build loyalty and create fans in the dynamic new media environment of today.