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Monday Free Press: Jim Harbaugh building Michigan brand with Twitter

Jim Harbaugh is attempting to change the culture at Michigan. One way that's different from the past? Twitter.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Every Monday, Maize n Brew is given the opportunity to appear on the Detroit Free Press' online sports page with a Monday column. Here is this week's column.

One of the easiest ways to promote your brand to a wide range of audiences is through social media. It's free, easily accessible and if done right, can help to quickly increase your presence.

For Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, he doesn't need social media to increase his online presence. His name alone is highly recognizable in the collegiate and professional football ranks. But not only is he trying to embark on a new era of U-M football on the field, he is also introducing a new era of social media connectivity.

Making a Twitter account is not a prerequisite for a coach at any level, this much is clear. But it helps give fans, outsiders, alumni and former players an inside look into your program. It gives a sense of being connected to your affiliated football program without knowing all of the things that happen behind closed doors.

Former coach Brady Hoke didn't tweet and said he could barely figure out technology, making the program feel old and decrepit. Harbaugh's return to the Twitterverse (he was a big tweeter in his Stanford days) gives the sense that things are already being run differently at U-M.

Social media usage also helps recruiting, whether you want to believe it or not. By giving looks into your daily life and with the occasionally funny tweet, there's a possibility that a recruit will see it and relate to the coach.

Big Ten coaches like Penn State's James Franklin, Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio are just a few head coaches in the conference that utilize social media to market not on their personal brand but to further triumph the successes of the program. Perhaps the best head coach to follow on Twitter is Franklin, who has been known to make funny tweets and responses to current players. The excellent social media presence might not resonate on the football field, but the fanbases and current players love it.

Harbaugh will obviously have to win at U-M and turn the program around to truly turn this into a new era. But giving a look at the new direction the program is headed might win some new fans along the way. It's up to Harbaugh to keep them by doing that on the football field, not on Twitter.

There's obviously no direct correlation between a successful social media presence and victories on the football field. Social media doesn't create victories, but victories certainly help drive attention to all of those associated with the winning program.

Besides, football related or not, there are some people out there who must know whether Harbaugh is going to attack the day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind or not.