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Case Study: HuskerMax Creates "Instant Reader Engagement"

It started with an amazing catch. It could have easily started with the latest pop song, YouTube craze, political battle, product launch, fashion trend, or celebrity meltdown. Big stories have a visceral impact in the moment, and people flock to the conversation to be part of the story and voice their opinion.
WR_Kenny_Bell_One_Handed_Catch.jpg
WR Kenny Bell makes an incredible one handed catch 
HuskerMax

 For online publishers, the secret sauce is having an easy way to capture all that emotion in real time and delight your audience. In an age of the 24-hour news cycle moving at the speed of social, it’s a constant challenge and can mean the difference between a hockey stick and a paddle on monthly revenue. 

HuskerMax.com is the one of the largest college football fan websites in the world. Their slogan – Husker to the MAX™ – is intense. They attract millions of site visitors each month looking to get their daily fix of Husker football game coverage, analysis, and discussion.

With lean digital teams busy cranking out the latest news breaks and regular features, publishers are looking for content and publisher tools that are built for the speed of social. The classic bulletin board forum is still one of the engagement tools of choice for website owners with critical mass. It almost runs itself and encourages contributions from the community.

“Our forum is an important part of our site, but it’s stuck behind a tab and doesn’t integrate well with the main site. We wanted something (like SquareOffs) that could be placed anywhere on the main site and the forums to get interaction from both segments. We link to the conversation from our social media as well.” – Co-Owner, David Max

As University of Nebraska’s WR Kenny Bell made history with his amazing one-handed catch, within 24 hours, the Husker Nation decided it was the “Best Ever” through SquareOffs on HuskerMax.com. This reinforced the fact that forums are built for the speed of social. (Example – users all over the Marcus Smart thing in sports forums before any articles were posted.) Just about any UGC - the users are on top of it. It’s more about being able to easily include, distribute, and share the discussion.

The Right Playbook

Recognize a moment and take advantage of it. This is what every publisher and brand seeks. It’s easier said than done and it takes the right strategy. HuskerMax.com, with the help of social debate platform, SquareOffs™, has implemented a playbook for this very thing. It allows them to be flexible and not miss opportunities to create “instant” engagement when the big stories hit the press.

A new poll question can be placed on their website in minutes, collecting valuable reactions and opinions from their most passionate readers. These are social debates around the hottest content, allowing the audience to pick a side, and voice their opinion. The best opinions get voted to the top and readers can pull their friends and followers into the conversation from Facebook and Twitter. There’s really nothing like it anywhere else.

Max and his team run two SquareOffs per week, and promote them through their home page’s news feed. The social debate is front and center with readers, and integrates directly with the content of the page. 

Show Me The Metrics

 “We have a ‘playbook’ for engaging our readers and we are executing on it,” – Co-Owner, David Max


brand.png1.75% CTR

(click through rate)

On Poll Page Ads

 

 

13 More Seconds

(average through all placements)

Spent on the page

 

HuskerMax.com is getting over 85% interaction rate on SquareOffs with readers that visit the poll page. It’s also translating to higher CPM and click-through on the ad inventory hosted within each social debate. Click-through rates are typically 1-2% and provide quick cash twice a week for the site. They also place SquareOffs on their home page and forum pages through the week to maximize visibility and engagement as the big stories churn through the news cycle. Readers are spending an average of fourteen additional seconds on the home page when interacting with the embedded SquareOffs social debate.  

"Publishers and brands, regardless of size or category, need to quickly own the conversation and engage users when these big stories hit,” says Jeff Rohr, our Chief Executive Officer at SquareOffs. “We provide an awesome platform for that and let our publishers do what they do best.”

Shawna Westphal

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