March Madness is such an exciting time. And as with any live event these days, social media is playing a pivotal role.
Sports fans and social media butterflies fill out their brackets, follow their teams and pretend to be diligently working throughout the tournament. Twitter is a buzz with scores and snippets from every game. Your friends post status updates on Facebook describing their most exciting moments.
With many Americans riveted to their TV sets (or their computers at work), March Madness provides further evidence of the power of social media and Advertisers are ramping up their investment. There are 3 points, or takeaways that can be gleaned from the March Madness-social media connection:
1. Creating a hub –Last year, Coke spent 2% of its NCAA tournament ad budget on social media. This year, Coke has devised a social-media gathering place, dubbed the Coke Zero Social Arena, and upped it’s spending more than 20%. Coke Zero has sponsored the “Social Arena” on NCAA.com, from top tweets to trending teams. Click the “bracket” link and you’ll see the standard NCAA bracket, but with Facebook “like” buttons for each team. “Click on a ‘like’ to support your team,” says the site, which of course, broadcasts your choice on your wall. Coke will aggregate tweets about the game by team and try to refine social chatter in one place. “This is where our consumers are,” says William White, group director for Coke Zero.
ESPN.com is offering a similar experience but tied to Twitter. Called “Tournament of Tweets” and sponsored by Verizon, you can vote for a team by sending a tweet with the corresponding hashtag. By clicking teams, you can see the latest team tweets alongside the bracket.
2. Creating buzz— Everyone gets excited about the possibility of winning a great prize. Hershey’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups brand is coaxing fans to visit its Facebook page with the lure of shooting a half-court basket for $1 million at next year’s tournament. “The brand has more than 6.6 million Facebook fans,” says spokeswoman Anna Lingeris.
3. Friending for prizes— Facebook has reached 500 million registered users and advertisers are seeking ways to leverage this ever growing audience. AT&T has created an NCAA Facebook friend app sweepstakes asking folks to pick which Facebook friend they would choose to take with them to this year’s NCAA Final Four. Friends conversing with friends about a major sporting event seems to be a natural combination for social media. “We have to be where people are spending their time,” says Vance Overbey, executive director of AT&T’s advertising.
As March Madness rolls forward through the crowning of the NCAA champion, advertisers will continue to thrive on the popularity of social media. Based on rising number of 3 point shots we see being launched, I think we can all expect the social media game to be a high scoring affair.
The major advertisers seem to be figuring out how to integrate social media with their advertising and promotions. How are you planning to use social media to attract your customers?
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