The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina’s New and Creative Media team uses social media to recruit Gen Z

<p>A photo illustration of a screen shows information from the Gamecocks Football Twitter profile on Jan. 21, 2024. The New and Creative Media team uses social media as an opportunity to draw the attention of Gen Z.</p>
A photo illustration of a screen shows information from the Gamecocks Football Twitter profile on Jan. 21, 2024. The New and Creative Media team uses social media as an opportunity to draw the attention of Gen Z.

There's a video on X, formally known as Twitter, of South Carolina football head coach Shane Beamer sprinting down a street with the 2023 season players, a parody of a cold open from the hit sitcom “The Office.”

Then there’s the video from the season before posted on YouTube of Beamer and his coaching staff cruising in a red convertible to recreate the opening of the '90s sitcom “Full House." 

These are just two of the many viral videos the USC Athletics New and Creative Media team has produced for Gamecock Football. The collection of videos has generated more than two million views on X.

But not many have seen the video of Beamer running around the football facility with a Nerf gun, or the one of him doodling with a pack of crayons.

Those videos didn’t go viral. They only had a few views. And it's because those videos were not produced for public consumption. 

They were made for recruits.

The New and Creative Media team uses social media to draw the attention of the next generation of young recruits. Ethan Styll, the producer for New and Creative Media, said the team does this through personalization and representation. The team works to advertise and sell the university in whatever way is most meaningful to athletes.

“Pretty much all these student-athletes believe in their own abilities on the field. We're not having to convince them of that,” Styll said. “We're having to convince them how they fit in with our program and our culture and our opportunities we can get them here.”

Recruiting is an important element of building a strong class, according to Kevin Hull, sports media lead in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

“You win with good players, and so recruiting is really important,” Hull said. “Whatever advantage you can get, whether it’s through NIL, whether it's through creative media, that stuff matters.”

Creative Media Pull-Quote

USC's recruiting ranked No. 19 nationally for the Class of 2024 out of 184 ranked schools, according to On3.

This ranking means that what South Carolina is doing is working. Their content is catching the eyes of young, talented recruits such as safety Isaiah McClary. 

McClary said the work of the recruiting team contributed to his decision to join the Gamecocks. 

“To be honest, I think they have one of the best media groups in the country,” McClary said. “They're doing a great job with that. It's definitely attracting people, and it definitely attracts me a lot, just seeing the videos, pictures and all that. They do well on TikTok. So it’s pretty entertaining.”

The New and Creative Media team controls the narrative of its team's culture by using entertainment as a tool. While it may not be through direct communication with recruits, it shapes the national brand of the program, Styll said.

But the media team hasn't won everyone over with its recruiting strategies. 

Styll said that Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops "threw some shade at Beamer" in 2022. Before a game against the Wildcats, Stoops said that recruiting antics could only change the climate, not the entire culture of a program.

The New and Creative team took the opportunity to issue a response after the Gamecocks’ win against the Wildcats by posting a video of Beamer dancing in some "stupid sunglasses," a phrase Styll said he believes was directed at Beamer. 

“We are not doing that for recruits, but it goes into recruiting, because that's something we take advantage of from a creative side,” Styll said. “That can then be that piece in recruits' minds of like, ‘Oh yeah, I saw that from South Carolina. That seems like a cool place to be,’ and then they can start building those relationships. And that's where our work is done.”

The creativity and personalization of these videos are often at the forefront of young recruits' minds, according to Hull. 

“We're now possibly more connected to recruiting than we've ever been before, and it’s because of social media,” Hull said.

Styll said that the team's role in recruiting is an opportunity to get all people, not just recruits, interested in Gamecock football.

“You can argue it’s all recruiting at the end of the day — recruiting fans, recruiting donors, recruiting players," Styll said. "We get to showcase why we want fans to be a part of this, why we want donors to make an impact where they can (and) why we want the best student-athletes in the country to have that 'Carolina' on the front of their jersey.”