On Wednesday, August 30th, 2023, Nebraska Volleyball made national headlines, as their five-time NCAA National Champion volleyball team pulled off a historic feat for the ranks of athletics across the globe.
On this night, the 4th ranked Cornhuskers were greeted into the university’s Memorial Stadium by 92,003 faithful supporters as they took on the Omaha Mavericks. Called by many “Volleyball Day in Nebraska,” the program and university long planned this day to break not only the United States attendance record for a women’s sports event (90,185 for 1999 USA vs. China Women’s World Cup at the Rose Bowl) but the world record of 91,648 (2022 Champions League match between FC Barcelona and Wolfsburg), and were successful in doing so.
Cultivated by a 3-0 victory, this day became a landmark date for the university, the program, and the NCAA, as it has become a daily talking point months later not only for the program but other university athletic departments.
Given the historic grounds that “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” was going to set for the University of Nebraska volleyball and athletic programs, the athletic department wanted to be able to measure the impact this day created digitally on social media. Besides added attention to their own social media pages, it was expected this match would be a nationally-covered event, and being able to measure and quantify this data was extremely crucial to evaluating the success of the match and day overall.
Turning to Zoomph, the University of Nebraska athletic department office jointly worked with the team at Zoomph to set the necessary parameters to collect all social media content surrounding the day. This included setting up feeds to track the athletics and volleyball social media pages, relevant search terms, including words and hashtags, and other media handles that would be talking about the event.
After this, Zoomph’s automated tagging process was enabled, so that as social media posts came in they were simultaneously being categorized with filtering tags that distinguished Nebraska-owned posts, earned media exposure, and more.
Once this was complete and ready, it was time for match day inside Memorial Stadium!
Nebraska Volleyball Owned Account Results
Due to this being a planned and historic event, we analyzed a four-day window spanning from one day before until two days after (Aug. 29 – Sep. 1) to collect not only day-of metrics but also pre-match “hype” content and the proceeding days’ coverage of the historic night.
Reporting on Nebraska Volleyball’s Twitter/X, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, the program posted 106 times to social media across all platforms. The impact of these 106 posts was truly impressive.
These 106 posts helped generate a cross-platform impressions sum of 32,174,485 total impressions, a remarkable number for volleyball and college athletics in general. These over 32 million impressions were seen by, and beyond, the program’s 744K followers, achieving an exposure rate on social media of 40.80%, well above the average we see cross-platform by major North American sports teams and franchises.
Additionally, these 106 posts created a total social media valuation of over $1.5 million over the four days, which is a stupendous number in regards to the impact this night had both for program brand sponsors and NIL impact for the team.
The Huskers main athletic account was also active during the event timeframe, creating and sharing fan-focused content to celebrate the day beyond match event happenings. During the four-day span, the Huskers account produced an added 75 social media posts, which totaled over 19.8 million impressions and 594,000 engagements.
For a grand total, the two main social media accounts for Nebraska’s event coverage clipped at 52 million impressions, just shy of 3.4 million engagements, and over $2.1 million in social media value across 181 social media posts.
Vs. Other Premier North American Women’s Sporting Events
Being a premier women’s sporting event on the 2023 calendar, we benchmarked “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” against the other premier NCAA Women’s sporting events that have taken place to understand the magnitude of this event and how it compared to the others.
For this comparison, we used the University of Iowa Women’s Basketball outdoor exhibition game and the 2023 Women’s Basketball National Championship, measuring both the tournament handle and the champion Louisiana State University’s (LSU) basketball account. In order to level the comparison, we used a 4-day time period for all of them to mimic the time frame we had for “Volleyball Day in Nebraska”, and we also compared on a per-post basis to account for differences in the number of posts that raw numbers could inflate or underscore.
The first metric we compared was the impressions per post created from the respective accounts. For “Volleyball Day in Nebraska,” the Huskers volleyball account averaged 263,465 per post, while the main athletics account averaged 249,448 impressions per post. These marks ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively compared to other events, both only coming up short behind LSU Women’s Basketball during the National Championship week.
Nebraska Volleyball absolutely shined in the next comparison metric, engagement per post. Coming in at 110,643 engagements per post, this ranked 1st by a wide margin vs the other accounts, with LSU being the only other handle to eclipse 75,000 engagements per post. This high engagement for Nebraska Volleyball helped drive up the engagement rate and social value for the program accounts.
Lastly, we compared social value per post between the same respective accounts, again, with Nebraska Volleyball’s account being the leader and the main athletic account being a high performer as well. The volleyball program accounts were able to generate just shy of $10,000 in social media value per post, with a final mark at $9,971, again 1st among the compared accounts. It was once again LSU Women’s Basketball trailing right behind at $9,523 in social value per post, and Nebraska Athletics in 3rd at $8,225. None of the other accounts in this comparison drove over $6,250 in social value per post.
This comparison shows the level of success “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” achieved for both the volleyball program and athletic department’s missions to cover the the event for fans on social media. With this success, the event in Lincoln ranked among the elite of women’s collegiate sporting events in 2023.
Vs. 2022 Nebraska Cornhuskers Volleyball 4-day Average
To put these numbers into further context, we also benchmarked these four-day values vs. the program’s 2022 season average four-day metrics.
The most impressive growth metric seen was the raw number of engagements across the four platforms, however it was Twitter/X that led the way. Across the four days, Twitter/X was credited for 119,895 of the program’s total owned engagements. Compared to the 2022 benchmark of 14,736 engagements, this was a 713% comparative increase.
Also notable was the massive growth compared to last season’s social media value benchmarks across all platforms. Respectively, Twitter/X had 814% growth, Instagram had 696% growth, and Facebook reached 648% growth for the metric.
As expected, this event helped Nebraska Volleyball reach new audiences, leading to massive follower growth for all of its accounts. We tracked follower growth from the morning of August 30th to the morning of August 31st to truly understand who followed the accounts on match night after seeing “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” content.
Generating the highest follower growth between Twitter/X, Instagram, and Facebook was the program’s Instagram account, growing by over 3.1% overnight to over 199K followers. Since then, this number has grown to over 220K followers, signifying the lasting impact of the record-breaking match.
As mentioned previously, with social media value during events comes congruent exposure for brands that partner with the program, which we can quantify into brand value. Zoomph uses patented discounting methodologies, as well as AI logo detection in photos and videos to detect brands and associate impact metrics.
During the four-day window, partners earned over $41,000 in brand value and 25.4 million in logo impressions across the Nebraska Volleyball and Huskers owned accounts.
Earned Media is the X-Factor to Maximum Exposure
Record-setting sporting events such as “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” make a mark not only through the program itself but earned media content discussing the event. Through Zoomph, terms such as “Nebraska Volleyball” were tracked to collect posts from top media, both in and out of the sports landscape, worldwide.
Again, looking at the same four-day window, the match was mentioned 79 times by premier media organizations such as Bleacher Report, ESPN, and The New York Times.
These 79 mentions added onto the impact created by Nebraska accounts, generating another 32.5 million impressions across Twitter/X, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as $810,990 in social media value, 3.07 million video views, and over 630,000 more engagements.
This day was not only successful for the program on the court and in the stadium, but also provided an immense boost to the program’s social media presence, which still continues to grow as the season continues.
Post-event, the athletic department has produced and released an in-house documentary, giving the final full scope of the impact of “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” to help the historic day live on and detail the tremendous impact it had for Nebraska Volleyball and Athletics. To date, the documentary has over 45,000 views on YouTube, which registers at a stupendous 97% exposure rate (views divided by subscribers).
By utilizing Zoomph, the athletic department at the University of Nebraska has been able to continually quantify the success of “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” for Nebraska and grasp the lasting visibility it generated for the volleyball team.
Using this data will allow the program to execute future strategies and continue to build upon the success of the volleyball program, and other programs, to become a powerhouse beyond the field of play so they can deliver season after season for their massively supportive fanbase and incredible brand partners.