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A Perfect Match: UCLA Men’s Volleyball & Social Media

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

If you are a girl in college that has been on social media anytime in the last month, you have probably seen the UCLA Men’s Volleyball team on TikTok. From fan-made edits to professional videos from their resident videographer to TikToks on their own page, their social media success is evident. And girls from around the country are eating it up. But where did this success come from? Well, I sat down with one of UCLA MVB’s team managers (and social media manager), Emily Aguiar, to find out more. 

The account was originally created in 2019 by Merrick McHenry and Alex Knight, who are now graduating seniors at UCLA. Aguiar has since taken over the account after the previous social media manager, Alexis Cantley, helped shift the account towards a more official NCAA social media platform. And even though this is actually Aguiar’s first social media management job, and I think it’s safe to say she’s doing a great job. Their Instagram has seen an increase in 40,000 followers since September, from 60,000 to 100,000 followers, and the TikTok has 300,000 followers. 

Aguiar does her own form of market research for the team (scrolling on TikTok), where she pinpoints trends she thinks the team will like to be a part of or that will do well on their TikTok or Instagram. She looks on TikTok and Instagram for content, makes the videos, whether that is with the players or not, and waits for the content to be approved. Aguiar is also sent photos or videos from UCLA MVB’s photographers and videographers, where she writes captions to help market the team. However, Aguiar said that she shouldn’t take all of the credit, as UCLA MVB’s photographers and videographers Holly Wong, Lillie Yazdi, and Kaira Edwards take all of the photos and videos for the team, while Aguiar creates captions and other forms of social media content for the team. 

There is a decent amount of content that is never posted to the team’s TikTok, as athletic compliance as a whole is pretty strict to promote a level of sophistication and appropriateness. With all of this virality, however, the team does seem fairly receptive to making content. But, it’s all about timing. 

“I try not to bother them because I know that when they’re practicing, they’re in work mode… It’s always about time and place, whether you’re just asking them a question of the day or you’ll be like ‘Hey can we go make a TikTok really quick?’ It’s all about knowing when to talk to them,” she added.  

However, it seems that UCLA MVB’s players and employees are a little divided on how to feel about their newfound virality. 

“It’s interpreted in different ways. Now, the people who work with the team, like my staff and I, think it’s funny, but are also a little bit like ‘Oh digital footprint guys, like everyone sees the videos, including the players.’”

Ultimately, she hopes to grow these accounts’ follower counts in the next few years, shifting back to organic content that their TikTok account was originally known for with Knight’s and McHenry’s 2019 posts. And after this year with the team, she wants their social media to go back to its roots, ensuring more control and comfortability for the players online, especially with the ever-apparent risk of inappropriate content online.

For Aguiar and many of the MVB players, however, it’s important that users are cognizant of what they post because everyone on MVB sees it. So, she recommends that anyone that posts about the team just thinks before they post, because while the team and players appreciate the love, some videos and posts can go too far. 

Despite potential issues over inappropriate content, Aguiar loves her job and couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else. She has grown to appreciate sports marketing and content creation for sports teams, where it has become a community of sorts. She wouldn’t have known a lot of photographers, videographers, and even players if UCLA MVB hadn’t been such a welcoming community. 

Ultimately, UCLA MVB’s success is an awesome example of the future of social media marketing for collegiate sports, especially those that are historically overlooked. 

“Seeing the game grow on social media the way it is, it’s really cool to be a part of that.” 

Calina is a second year Communication Studies major and Global Studies minor at UCLA from Santa Cruz, California. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, going to the beach, exploring new places, and spending time with friends.