App State Athletics announced Jan. 28 that it has partnered with INFLCR, a social media platform that will make it easy for athletes and coaches to share personalized content and that will facilitate tracking of audience engagement.
“Mountaineer student-athletes, alumni, coaches and staff will gain access to personalized INFLCR mobile app galleries of photos, videos and graphics created by App State Athletics staff and other external media outlets who cover App State,” the athletics department stated. “This content is delivered through the INFLCR software and mobile app in real time, for these App State brand ambassadors to access and share on their personal social media channels.”
Joey Jones, App State Athletics spokesperson, said that App State has contracted with INFLCR (pronounced “influencer”) for three sports to have access to the app.
“The app has already been introduced to our football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams,” Jones said. “Many of the student-athletes have begun using it and interacting with the content.”
App State joins 100 other college athletic programs that have signed on with the Birmingham, Ala.-based company during the past two years, including UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, Auburn, Ole Miss, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon and Miami, according to the INFLCR website. INFLCR serves more than 500 teams and more than 16,000 athletes from all levels of the NCAA.
“The App State brand is growing by the day, and our players are the best ambassadors we have,” head football coach Shawn Clark said in a statement. “This partnership with INFLCR will give our players and staff the tools they need to continue to connect with fans and the community in an impactful way as we tell the story of what a special place we’re at here on the mountain.”
App State was already a client of Teamworks, a Durham-based platform that merged with INFLCR in October 2019. Founded in 2004, Teamworks is a scheduling platform used by athletic teams and departments to coordinate complex athletic, academic and professional schedules; communications; file sharing; and travel.
“More than 68 percent of a professional or college athletic team’s social media reach comes from non-owned social media accounts — most notably, the personal social media accounts of their athletes,” the companies said in an October statement. “Since the INFLCR app launched in 2018, year over year athlete social media accounts have seen a 52 percent increase in social media followers, and team social accounts have grown by 21 percent.”
Via INFLCR’s platform, Mountaineer student-athletes and staff will receive personalized galleries of internal media and national photography content. The 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, App State and INFLCR said in a statement.
“After the fact, App State is able to measure the increased audience engagement coming from the much larger collective audience of those athletes and brand ambassadors,” according to the statement. App State plans to use this to bolster its online presence in a way that impacts event attendance, recruiting, fundraising and other strategic goals, it said.
“Right now is a tremendous moment in the life of App State Athletics with our football program reaching the top 20 in the final national rankings and the brand growing rapidly,” Jones said in the statement. “We’re always looking for ways to enhance and expand the brand. Partnering with INFLCR is allowing us to easily share the great content of our photographers and creative staff so that our student-athletes can enhance their individual brands as well as expand App State’s reach. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
The growing number of colleges signing up for the platform comes as the NCAA announced in late October that its governing board voted unanimously that student-athletes can be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness. The NCAA’s three divisions have been directed to develop rules to implement the new policy by January 2021.
Asked if the INFLCR platform would facilitate the calculation of payment to athletes based on how much audience engagement they generate, Jones said, “This has not been part of our discussions with INFLCR.”
Jones noted that INFLCR provides its clients with audience metrics that note the amount of reach related to Instagram and Twitter posts from individual brand ambassadors like student-athletes, coaches, staff and alumni who have elected to download and use the app.
An Oct. 7, 2019, article in the Raleigh News & Observer announcing the Teamworks and INFLCR merger noted that at the time, current NCAA rules did not allow student-athletes to generate any outside income related to their status as college athletes — which the NCAA would upend with its announcement a few weeks later.
“I don’t have a crystal ball where things are going to land,” Zach Maurides, CEO of Teamworks, told the newspaper. “But everyone is fully aware that everything is going to change and that athletes are going to be able to leverage their name and likeness.
“It is inevitable that social media is going to play a massive role in that.”