Uncategorized 25 Mar 2011 03:03 pm

Social Media is Slam-Dunk for NCAA Tournament

This year college basketball fans across the country have, arguably, the greatest access to the NCAA Tournament than ever before — giving them all the more reason to dance.

March Madness has become something larger than a selective showing of games on just one exclusive television network. Coverage of the 2011 tournament has expanded to four broadcast stations, as well as incorporated a medley of social media platforms.

Fans are now able to tap into the game through live online streaming and cell-phone applications—a trend that proved highly popular in 2010 as some 11.7 million hours of live streaming occurred for tournament games. However, viewers now also have the option to take a more interactive approach to the tournament.

Social media has exacerbated the buzz around college basketball by targeting fans and specific niche audiences. Viewers now have access to social hubs, such as the “Social Arena,” which is an online space, funded by the NCAA and Coke Zero, that fans can go to for professional commentary and fan chatter.

Advertisers are also promoting the big dance through Facebook and Twitter, posting tales about former tournament legends and creating sweepstakes. There is even a social bracket being created on Facebook based on the number of ‘likes’ each team in the tournament receives.

“We have to be where people are spending their time,” Vance Overbey, executive director of advertising for AT&T said.

And so market behemoths such as Coca-Cola, Papa John’s and AT&T have upped their social-media spending. Coke, specifically, has increased its spending tenfold—dedicating more than 20% of its tournament budget on social media this year compared to 2% last year.

For these companies, investment in social media could prove to be a slam-dunk marketing strategy—a chance for companies to utilize the tournament as a coax for consumers to be exposed to, and purchase their brands.

“It’s the ultimate sporting event for social media,’ John Kint, general manager at CBSSports.com said.

Caitlin Smith

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