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#WeAreUK to serve as rallying cry for football season

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WeAreUK hub.jpg If you're a Kentucky fan on Twitter, you've come across #WeAreUK.

The hashtag started organically among fans as a way to show pride in being a Wildcat and quickly spread from there. As this past athletic season wore on, student-athletes, athletics department staffers and even head coaches were using it frequently in their tweets.

Looking ahead to next year, it was already going to have a strong social media presence among those associated with UK. But now, #WeAreUK is going to be at the center of a grassroots campaign that will welcome the 2012 football season. The fans that got the hashtag started in the first place will play an instrumental role.

This week, UK Athletics unveiled a webpage that will serve as the online hub for #WeAreUK. Tweets and Instagram photos bearing the #WeAreUK hashtag will be pooled and many posted directly on www.ukathletics.com/weareuk for the world to see. Serving as the official ambassador will be Wildcat, UK's mascot. On Twitter, @The_Wildcat will notify fans their tweet is being used. The Hub will also allow fans to connect through Facebook, including each fan's profile picture in the UK fan mosaic. The mosaic will serve as the foundation for the 2012 schedule poster and other materials.

"I think the best thing is to start tweeting and keep tweeting because you never know," assistant athletics director of marketing and licensing Nathan Schwake said. "I think it's a pretty unique chance to get out there for an individual fan."

And it won't stop online.

Over the summer months, billboards featuring fans' tweets will begin popping up around Lexington and the Bluegrass - and a few already have. As the season approaches, expect the game day experience at Commonwealth Stadium to have a #WeAreUK flavor as well.

"I would just say keep your eyes open," Schwake said. "There's not a lot that we do that won't feature that."

Head coach Joker Phillips knows about the campaign and is excited about it, but with players just now arriving on campus for summer classes, they will be learning about #WeAreUK along with fans. Schwake has little doubt they will embrace it wholeheartedly.

"I think the players have used it on their own and hopefully, even if we didn't say anything to them, they would see this happening just like a regular person would," Schwake said. "We certainly want them to be a part of it and hopefully they'll have fun with it."

The beauty of #WeAreUK is the unknown. UK's marketing department has sketched out what the first weeks of it look like, but with a truly fan-driven campaign, what happens after is anybody's guess.

"When you're doing a campaign based on people's tweets, it's going to evolve," Schwake said. "I think sometimes we are going to be inspired to do something specific. I don't know where this is going to go. We're three months from our first game, so there's a lot that can happen."

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