When Schools Battle It Out, Messaging Wins

Fall means football. And everywhere we look, fans are spreading love for their teams. No longer just expressed with t-shirts and bumper stickers, fandom has officially gone mobile. Specifically, in messaging apps, where we’ve seen over 130 thousand devoted football fans sharing branded content in support of their university teams. We’ve been especially blown away by the engagement from Mississippi State University and Auburn University fans, who collectively sent over 1.1 million images on their Snaps keyboards in the last two months alone. It’s no surprise to us that University fans--students, parents, alumni and faculty--are getting in the spirit.

The question is, how do they stack up?


MSU had a stellar kick off. They made a big announcement to let their fans know the keyboard was available, and the fans responded with astonishing enthusiasm. MSU’s engagement rate on launch day was a whopping 87%, with Bulldog fans sharing over 145,000 pieces of content in that single day alone. We also saw 15,000 new users that day, and an average share of almost 10 pieces of content per person. THAT is the way to get things started.

While MSU fans showed more impressive first day numbers, Auburn fans have been more active on their Snaps keyboards since school has been back in session. In fact, the Tigers sent 34% more pieces of content than the Bulldogs in the month of September. And while football games certainly drive big spikes in usage--for both teams--Auburn fans have been steadily active at a higher rate than MSU fans. However, Mississippi State has 24% more unique users than Auburn--though to be fair, they launched a month earlier, so we’ll be watching to see if Auburn catches up.

So what content has been the most engaging? What are fans sharing?

For Mississippi State it’s logos and celebration emojis.


Auburn fans lean toward the mascot, their battle cry, and a very amped up sticker of Coach Malzahn.


And who exactly is sharing all of this content--current students or alumni?


Auburn has 2.3x the number of unique users compared to the size of their student body, while MSU has 3.5x the number of unique users compared to the size of the student body--indicating that more MSU faculty and alum are sharing their messaging content. In fact, 45% of MSU fans are ages 35+ compared to 37% for Auburn. Though there are more MSU alumni in the spirit, these are high numbers for both schools, evidence that branded messaging content is a phenomenal way for schools to stay in touch and on the radars of their former graduates.

Finally, let’s look at game day. No surprise that both teams have huge spikes in usage around Saturday games--with peaks sometimes higher than 10x daily usage on game day. Though we noticed something quite interesting in the data. Auburn’s usage has been at its highest on game days, while MSU’s largest ever game-driven peak was the day after the first game of the season. Overall, Auburn fans are more active during games, with engagement rates 2-5x those of MSU fans, but MSU fans show a greater tendency towards viral word of mouth (keyboard) marketing--with not only usage, but new installs, spiking after the games.

The ultimate face-off happened the last weekend in September when the teams went head-to-head not just on mobile devices, but on the field. MSU beat Auburn 17-9. Does their keyboard activity reflect this?

Not quite. While MSU fans shared at a rate slightly higher than Auburn fans on Sunday following their win--a mere 100 more pieces of content--Auburn fans shared 25% more pieces of content than MSU fans over the course of the weekend. Between both teams we saw nearly 4k new installs Saturday & Sunday alone, proof that win or lose, spirit is in the messaging apps.