While Herb Hand spent the morning giving a lecture on how not to use social media, Northern Illinois has provided a master class in how to use a tool to an athletics department’s advantage.

Combining Chicagoland’s upcoming Lollapalooza with the absolute doldrums that is late July on the college athletics calendar, the Huskies have made something useful out of this dead time with #SchedulePalooza. Tuesday through Friday, Northern Illinois is announcing one home-and-home per day. On Tuesday it was San Diego State; NIU hosts the Aztecs on Sept. 17, 2016, and will visit San Diego on Sept. 30, 2017. 

On Wednesday, Northern Illinois revealed it would play… wait a minute. I’m not going to tell you just yet. That would ruin all the fun. I’ll let you figure it out the same way Northern Illinois fans had to earlier Wednesday morning.

The Huskies sent their fans scrambling on a bizarro social scavenger hunt through social media. 

First it was Facebook…

 

then Twitter…

and then to Instagram…

Northern Illinois wrapped it all up with an announcement tailored for each platform.

 

Let’s get first things first. This ploy works because Northern Illinois has worthwhile news to share. Athletics director Sean Frazier has put his work in here. Getting BYU to come to DeKalb is major news to Huskies fans, and getting a road trip to San Diego isn’t bad, either. 

But mostly it works because, well, we’ll let fan explain it in a tweet that was so perfect it had to have brought tears to the eyes of NIU’s social media team.

What exactly does social media momentum do for you in the real world? Is it something you can hold on to and turn into real dollars? I have no idea. Common sense tells me likes and retweets will only turn into ticket purchases as long as head coach Rod Carey does his job and the team remains one of the best in the MAC. But people who know things about digital marketing make it clear that you’d much rather have people buzzing about you on social media as opposed to the alternative. 

One thing is abundantly clear, however. #SchedulePalooza beats the tar out of a press release.

(Oh, and one more: I’ll be checking back tomorrow and Friday to see who else Northern Illinois is playing.)