• Fans greet the IU basketball team
  • Tweet announcing Hoosier Nation Day
  • IU Communications staff handing out free gifts to fans
  • Graphics from Hoosier Nation campaign
  • Coach Tom Crean with fans and IU fans from Instagram
  • Facebook update about tournament

Hoosier Nation Day

Overview

Client

Indiana University Bloomington/IU Alumni Association/IU Athletics

When the Hoosiers reached the Sweet 16 in the 2012 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, we helped harness the enthusiasm of the entire IU Bloomington community. The first-ever Hoosier Nation Day was celebrated on Friday, March 23, 2012 – the day that Indiana faced off against its longtime rival Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

To build energy and pride across the entire campus, we quickly launched a widespread public relations campaign to encourage everyone to wear their cream and crimson IU gear on the big day. We also recruited dozens of students, faculty, and staff to participate in a two-minute video so the team could feel the Bloomington love from 500 miles away.

Via social media, we also invited IU alumni and Hoosier basketball fans around the world to be a part of Hoosier Nation Day from wherever they were through videos, special messages from noteworthy alums, and live updates from the tournament site.

Team
Strategy and Planning
  • Cindy Miller

    Cindy Miller

Media Relations
Designer
Video production & photography

Research

You don't need a survey to understand how much Hoosiers love their basketball team. Instead, our planning focused on how to coordinate efforts between IU Athletics, the IU Alumni Association, and the IU Communications team. Together, we drew upon IU's powerful internal social media channels to help promote the Hoosier Nation Day message. We shared updates from alumni events in Atlanta and around the country. Additionally, we leveraged IU Communications' social media and video production teams to produce new content for every participating outlet.

IU fans celebrating at a local barOpen

Hoosier fans celebrate Indiana University's return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002.

Challenges

We had just six days to harness the power of the entire Hoosier Nation. While the Hoosiers came into the tournament as a #4 seed, there was obviously no guarantee they would advance. As soon as the final buzzer sounded in the team's 63-61 victory over VCU in the third round, however, we realized this was a historic moment for the team and the university.

With just six days until the team's next game, we had only a limited time to launch cross-promotional activities with the Indiana University online store, coordinate press coverage, and develop and execute a worldwide social media campaign. 

Screenshot of Sweet 16 apparel at the IU online storeOpen

The Indiana University online store offered a special collection of Sweet 16 apparel for fans.

Strategy

To get the word out about Hoosier Nation Day, we developed and distributed an integated social media plan to coordinate messaging on the university's official YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook sites, the Indiana University and IU Bloomington home pages, and the social media outlets and websites of our IU Athletics and IU Alumni Association partners.

We employed the #HoosierNation hashtag to serve as a common thread between each site and among fans as they joined the conversation. Our news and media team also reached out to notable IU alums, including Sage Steele and Tavis Smiley, to encourage them to become part of the #HoosierNation movement.

On our home pages, we featured new artwork with links to Hoosier Nation Day press coverage. We also worked with the IU Office of Licensing and Trademarks to promote new "Sweet 16" merchandise on sale in the Indiana University online store.

Perhaps the most ambitious part of the Hoosier Nation Day celebration was the creation of a two-minute video message to the team. In just 72 hours, we recruited and filmed dozens of students, faculty and staff, as well as IU and Bloomington dignitaries such as the late Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom and Bloomington mayor Mark Kruzan. Each offered an individual good-luck message to the team. 

The day before the big game, a Hoosier Nation "pride patrol" roamed the Bloomington campus handing out beads, posters, and T-shirts to students showing their spirit.

Graphics for Hoosier NationOpen

Official Sweet 16 apparel and Hoosier Nation Day were promoted on the IU Bloomington home page and elsewhere through custom-designed web buttons.

Results

Hoosier Nation Day was a winner. It was easy to measure the community's membership in Hoosier Nation: just look for the cream and crimson. Nearly 90 percent of the campus was decked out in IU gear on Friday, March 23. 

Much of that gear was new merchandise from the Indiana University online store. Within three hours of the store button going live on our websites, more than $15,000 in orders came through that channel alone.

The event received extensive coverage in the Bloomington Herald-Times, the Indiana Daily Student, and on student blogs. Meanwhile, on Facebook and Twitter, Hoosier fans around the world joined in on the fun. In just six days, the official IU Bloomington and Indiana University Twitter accounts gained more than 2,000 new followers, while the university's Facebook page received nearly 2,000 new "likes."

Meanwhile, any mention of the basketball team on Facebook attracted a flurry of activity from a deeply engaged audience.

Facebook Engagement, Week of March 18–23, 2012

Date Post Likes Comments Shares
March 18 Welcome Home from Oregon Pep Rally 1,984 100 293
March 22 Declaration of Hoosier Nation Day 2,105 149 448
March 23 Good Luck Message to the Hoosiers 2,353 92 365

Compare those figures with Facebook activity over the previous month:

Facebook Engagement, February 17–March 17

Date Post Likes Comments Shares
February 17 IU Contributes $11.5 Billion in Economic Activity 376 21 41
March 7 Trees on Campus 327 21 49
March 14 Spring Break on Campus Photos 491 23 89

With the Hoosiers poised for an even better season in 2012–2013, it's possible that Hoosier Nation Day could become a regular event.

The entire project was executed in six days and cost approximately $2,570, primarily for video production and promotional giveaway items.

Graphs showing increase in Twitter trafficOpen

IU's official Twitter accounts experienced a steady increase in followers throughout March Madness, noticeably spiking after the Hoosiers reached the Sweet 16.

Feedback

"Wearing t-shirt given to me by #IU band when I visited last month." @SageSteele, IU Alum

"I've never been so proud to be part of something in my life." @CourtneyKabbes, IU Student

"Great job! Lots of folks on the regional campuses are fired up for Friday as well." Valerie Gill, Director, IU Licensing & Trademarks

"So very very proud of our Hoosiers. Believe, believe, believe . . . The Hoosier Nation will all be there, if not in the stands, rooting by the time. We will be united." Carolyn Wanstrath on Facebook

Facebook updateOpen

Thousands of Hoosier fans around the world came together on Facebook to cheer the team to victory.