Samford – Socialie Case Study

How Samford University Grew Their Social Reach by 11x in 9 Months


Samford University is a small private Christian University in Birmingham, Alabama right in the middle of the most heated rivalry in college sports. The athletics department needed a way to grow awareness and drive engagements while seeing a ROI with a growth in attendance and ticket revenue.


The Samford staff decided to make the move to digital instead of competing with the larger brands for physical ad space. Instead of trying to get a traditional yard sign in a fan’s front yard, the staff turned their attention the cell phone screen and fans’ social media feeds marking the change in approach to grass roots marketing using technology. The goal was to put more Samford content in more places beyond the traditional brand channels with an efficient and cost effective solution.

Strategy and Tactics:

  • Empower student athletes with high quality content
  • Provide content for coaches, staff and department administrators who are embedded it the local community
  • Build a campus influencer network for content distribution to target students

The Results:

  • Samford on-boarded 439 publishers expanding their social ecosystem from 70k followers across 20 brand accounts to 800k followers across Socialie publishers — an 11x increase
  • Over 9,000 suggestions were sent resulting in over 1,200 posts
  • Generating over 130K engagements with Samford content
  • The department saw a 68% growth in overall social media growth with 38% of that growth coming from content posted and distributed through Socialie
  • Samford saw a 20% increase in student attendance during the 2018-19 season. The football season opener set a student attendance record.
  • The department set an overall ticket revenue record and single-game ticket sales records fall in basketball and baseball.

Having Socialie incorporated into our social media content plan this year made all the difference. We’ve seen our fanbase engage with our student athletes more than our brand accounts. Attendance and revenue grew, but more than anything, an emotional connection between our fans and our student athletes has formed. From our football student athletes to our cross country and track & field student athletes we were able to equally share their experiences as a student-athlete at Samford.

– Austin Scott, Director of Social Media

Student Athlete Content Distribution

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Spring ball โœ…

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Last night I finished my last meet as a Samford Bulldog. Four years ago, I never knew what was possible for myself, but I had a goal to run under 15:00 minutes in a 5k while in college. By the end of my sophomore year, I realized that a sub-15:00 5k was not achievable. My entire journey up until midway through my Junior year was long, full of injuries, and disappointing. It was just one year ago that I raced unattached in the 5k where a spark was lit for the first time in my career. Now as a senior, I can graciously say that I had a strong cross country season, ran a 14:54 5k in the indoor season, and ran a 31:13 10k this outdoor season. #trusttheprocess #Godisgood #setgoals #justkeepswimming

A post shared by Brad Cheek (@bradcheek_) on

Recruiting/NSD Content Distribution

Coaches/Admin Content Distribution

Alumni Content Distribution

Student Athletes as Content Creators

Marketing/Campus Influencers Content Distribution