Follow us … Like us … or Watch us

The “official” number of Facebook and Twitter accounts is tough to pin down, but according to some recent published reports it appears that more than 600 million people world-wide are active participants. Think about that number for a minute.

It is this explosion in social media that got our communications professionals in the athletics department to spend time this summer trying to expand our offerings in this ever-changing frontier. You may have noted some subtle changes to cyclones.com in the last couple of weeks. The alterations were made to make accessing our social media channels easier.

For starters, I would encourage you to click on the “Connect” button on the front page of our web site. It will take you to a comprehensive chart showing what sports have Facebook pages (12 of them), what coaches are Tweeting (Fennelly, Hoiberg, Ronayne and Ihmels), and who is blogging (me and several of our communications staff members, who are offering an inside look LIVE from some events).

We were extremely pleased by the popularity of recent live blogs at volleyball matches (more than 400 participants) and the football season opener (more than 1,600 visitors). You can bet that if there’s an update coming from the press box, we’ll share it on the live blog.

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Additionally, new widgets have been added to stories on cyclones.com so it’s a click of the button to share stories (on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or Google) or give a “thumbs up.”

We also added a section to the front page of the web site for you to scan the latest posts on both Facebook and Twitter from our general athletics department account.

We continue to add videos on a regular basis to YouTube and specific channels are operational for football, women’s basketball, men’s basketball and volleyball.

Social media has surely established itself as a new force is getting the message out. Much like the internet gave us a chance to distribute information quickly and cost effectively a number of years ago, social media has even more power because of its viral nature.

Rather than sit by idly, we are actively engaged in sharing our content through these new channels. If you haven’t “liked” us on Facebook or “followed” us on Twitter, what’s your excuse?

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

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