INFLCR and the University of Wisconsin are extending their multi-sport partnership after a successful first season.
During the 2019-20 academic year, Wisconsin student-athletes in six sports gained access to thousands of photos, videos and graphics provided by Wisconsin Athletics and national-media outlets and delivered through the INFLCR software and mobile app, to share on their personal social-media channels.
INFLCR now serves more than 100 NCAA collegiate athletic programs, representing more than 700 teams and more than 22,000 athletes. Wisconsin was one of the first Big Ten programs to partner with INFLCR.
“Our student-athletes all have their own stories to tell and amazing experiences to share, and INFLCR has been exactly what we need as we work to empower them as personal storytellers,” said Kelli Steffes, Wisconsin’s assistant director of Brand Communications and football social media coordinator.
The impact was substantial in terms of athlete usage metrics:
— Wisconsin athletes logged more than 33,000 sessions in the INFLCR app to view content, downloading and sharing more than 8,000 content items.
— Wisconsin Athletics delivered more than 37,000 content items to those athletes, using Artificial Intelligence-powered technology to efficiently sort the content with great efficiency for the staff.
— Student-athletes using the platform held a collective social-media audience of more than 778,000 followers.
All-American running back Jonathan Taylor, the Doak Walker Award winner who was a draft pick of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, was a power user of the INFLCR app. After activating in July 2019, Taylor used the real-time access to content delivered via INFLCR to grow his social-media following 52 percent in his final season with the Badgers.
“We were able to equip Jonathan with tools he could use to raise his profile on social all the way from the time he started training in the summer through his record-setting and award-winning season and on to signing business deals and being selected in the NFL Draft,” said Steffes.
The easy access to content at his fingertips created an opportunity for Taylor to enhance his commercial opportunities.
“Before INFLCR, Jonathan was not very active on social media,” INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale said. “But as he gained real-time access to great content provided by Wisconsin, he began to post more frequently to his Instagram account and in Instagram Stories. Telling his story organically and authentically, he built his brand value significantly. When he entered the NFL, he was able to leverage that social growth and engagement into more lucrative endorsement opportunities than he previously would have had.”
For Taylor, this work on social media came with a delayed payoff at the professional level. But his success serves as a roadmap for future Badgers who will be able to monetize their Names, Image and Likeness under new NCAA rules that will take effect beginning in the fall of 2021.
“Even though the rules are not yet in effect, Wisconsin has a powerful recruiting story to tell right now,” Cavale said. “Wisconsin is investing in content and a platform to help student-athletes maximize their opportunities through editorial storytelling that builds audience and engagement. And the Badger student-athletes are using this platform in powerful ways that creates value for themselves while also growing the Wisconsin brand.”
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How It Works
INFLCR’s platform helps clients like Wisconsin send internal media and national photography content to personalized galleries for each of their athletes, coaches and other brand ambassadors.
Those athletes and brand ambassadors are able to access their content galleries through the INFLCR mobile app, and can then share the content to their personal social media accounts.
After the fact, Wisconsin is able to measure the increased audience engagement coming from the much-larger collective audience of those athletes and brand ambassadors.
Wisconsin plans to use this approach to bolster their online presence in a way that impacts event attendance, recruiting, fundraising, and other strategic goals.