Update, August 2010: I’ve now added a list of 2010 Longhorn Football Players on Twitter.
Continuing with the Who’s Who in Social Media for the Texas Longhorns, here are some of the most important and prominent sites, publications and blogs. To qualify, a site must not only have social aspects itself, but be engaging in other social networks as well.
Founder Brian Behrend created 40 Acres Sports in early 2005. Since them, the site has gone through a number of redesigns and has grown from one writer (Brian) to four.
Being a site run by professional web developers (one of whom even created their own Web 2.0 startup), 40 Acres Sports strives to be on the cutting edge with the latest tools and technologies.
40 Acres Sports is an extremely active user of Twitter. They started using Twitter as a tool to quickly post breaking UT news and share links before they could get full posts up on the site. During games, they use a web-based tool to liveblog games and chat with readers, embedding Twitter updates and search results into the article.
As stated in Part One, I find Barking Carnival one on the most entertaining Longhorn blogs around. They combine an irreverent (and sometimes wonderfully inappropriate) sense of humor, with deep sports knowledge, and dedicated Longhorn fandom.
Barking Carnival was co-founded by Drew Dunlevie and regular contributor Scipio. Drew said the following:
I know some really smart, funny guys. I thought the world needed to hear more from them so I started Barking Carnival. Some of the world seems happy.
That certainly displays the personality of Barking Carnival. I imagine some are offended at times, but I find the site consistently funny and informative.
Austin’s daily newspaper, the Austin American Statesman, has embraced social media for the Texas Longhorns through BevoBeat, which is both a blog and Twitter stream. The dedication to social media at the editor level is clear as they actively encourage their reporters and columnists to blog and tweet.
Burnt Orange Beat is the Scout.com affiliate for the Texas Longhorns. Fox Sports, who owns Scout.com, approached Bobby Bragg and Gerry Hamilton to take over the Texas site for Scout.com as an owner and publisher last year.
Hamilton has worked in the recruiting business for nearly a decade for multiple networks traveling both in the State of Texas, and the region covering Longhorn recruiting prospects. He has been able to parlay his deep relationships with Texas High School coaches and indefatigable work ethic into a reputation as the most knowledgeable recruiting expert covering the Longhorns.
Bragg and Hamilton, who have been friends for several years, were already discussing starting their own website for quite a while, so when this opportunity arose, it was a no-brainer for them to build the business together. For Hamilton, it was the opportunity to go from being the offensive coordinator (e.g. working for someone else) to being the head coach.
The Texas Scout.com site was re-branded and re-launched on October 31, 2008 as Burnt Orange Beat.
Their goal is to cover Longhorn recruiting like no one else. They are proud of the fact that they visit high schools, see games and practices in person, talk to coaches, and talk to players. They are not trying to cover recruiting from behind a desk.
Burnt Orange Beat has been on Twitter for a couple of months and uses it as another method to push content out to potential subscribers. Bragg hopes the people that experience Burnt Orange Beat through Twitter become evangelists for their content.
Burnt Orange Beat also has a fan page on Facebook.
Burnt Orange Nation is a member of the SB Nation network, whose websites are meant to be true communities. Everything about each team blog is designed to bring tribes of fans together in an interactive way.
Founder Peter Bean believes that the myriad tools the SB Nation blogging platform provides has helped make the website a real community. He says he’s lost track of how many new friends and business relationships he’s made through the site.
We’re proud of the content, too, of course, but I’m happy to say that’s not unique: Texas fans are blessed with an abundance of great ‘Horns sites.
One of the best things about Burnt Orange Nation is their daily (or nearly daily) links to articles on all things Texas Sports. It’s a great morning stop for a dose of Longhorn sports news.
Inside Texas, the elder statesman of Longhorn-specific publications, was founded in 1985 by Robert Heard as a black and white print newsletter. Current owners Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross both worked at Inside Texas as writers in the mid-1990’s until they purchased the publication from Heard in 1997. The deal closed two weeks after Texas hired Mack Brown as the head football coach.
Pearle and Ross still own the publication, making Inside Texas the only Longhorn subscription website that is wholly owned by UT grads.
Inside Texas focuses on factual, journalistically sound reporting, analysis and commentary. This approach resulted in ESPN choosing to affiliate with Inside Texas, putting the ESPN brand alongside theirs, because ESPN knows the quality of information they produce.
In addition, they have several special contributors who have actually played for the Longhorns, including Pat Culpepper, James Brown and Drew Kelson. This brings insight that can be very hard to find in any of the other publications.
Inside Texas has a limited Facebook presence, although their own side is the primary source of everything from content to interactive. The site has also been tweeting since August of 2008. Their very first tweet was fantastic:
Posted story on Sergio Kindle. Quote: “The quarterback is going to be my prey. I’m a predator.”
Says co-publisher Ross:
Twitter is a great medium for passing quick bits of information/commentary and as a complementary informational and promotional site for a publication like ours.
The Mack Brown-Texas Football website joined Twitter right before the 2009 NFL draft. The gave live reports from the draft, including interactions with and opinions from the former Longhorn players themselves.
They were very active during the draft, but the pace of updates has understandably dropped since then. Still, they’re giving about one update a day since.
Frankly, this is an embarrassment of riches. As Longhorn fans, we are quite fortunate to have so many great sites.
As I feel other sites deserve to be added to this list, I’ll be sure to add them. And feel free to suggest any you feel worthy. In the meantime, you might want to look at the individual members of the Who’s Who in Social Media for the Texas Longhorns.