Friday Apr 19, 2013

Slam Dunk: March Madness Shows Social Works for Brands

basketballAren’t you glad brands don’t have to compete in head-to-head, single elimination brackets?  That really separates the champs from the challengers.  But if you do want to be a social marketing champ, there are lessons to learn from March Madness, its sponsoring brands, and the presenting network. 

First, consider the value of piggybacking on or being a sponsor of events that are, in and of themselves, attention getting.  You want to be where the people are.  Facilitating such events usually allows you lock up the social around it as part of the package.

Lesson: Find, support, and partner with cool events.

Social heightens the event experience.  It gets buzz going prior to the event.  It increases the desire to be part of the event in some way.  It connects people to others who are equally interested in the event.  It makes the event “bigger.”  And yes, it ups the “cool” factor of associated brands.

Lesson: A social ecosphere with a life all its own can be created around events.  

March Madness sponsors activated campaigns across social to leverage all that excitement into product-related executions, and launched 2nd screen activations to be everywhere fans were. 

Coke Zero did an “It’s Not Your Fault” campaign, created content to reinforce it, launched a “Bracket Insurance” Facebook app where fans could win prizes, had a constant presence on the 2nd screen, and was attached to all social aspects of the NCAA mobile app. 

Capital One launched a #RallyCry hashtag campaign, did a campaign takeover on Facebook/Twitter/Google+, had their profile reflect tweet battle results with celebrity allegiances fueling the rivalry, and supported content like “Bracket Challenge” on both and the mobile app. 

AT&T integrated into through “courtside” branded pictures with social sharing for Facebook and Twitter, put an interactive graphic on Twitter with celebrity athlete content, and held a Google+ hangout with CBS Sports’ Clark Kellogg. 

Lesson: To capitalize on social around events, bring something unique and fun to the festivities.  Add to the party, don’t just bring ads to the party.

As for CBS Sports, Twitter handles were featured during pre, post and halftime shows, plus cut-in updates.  Fan tweets were featured on-air during the post show.  Hashtags were integrated into the game itself through score table banners and backboard placements.  And mobile, tablet, and desktop access were promoted on-air.  

They also maximized the 2nd screen experience with a Game Tweets sidebar including content options, Key Moment video capture of highlights shareable to Facebook or Twitter, Key Moment tweets and stats in the “Twitter Game Pulse” tracker, and Facebook and Get Glue check-ins to games watched in the player.

Lesson: There are a LOT of ways you can include social in whatever your brand is doing.  Brainstorm them all, then execute everything that’s within your capacity and resources.  

Does all this social get anybody anywhere?  Can it help an event?  Can it move any needles?  Does it add to brand awareness?

A post March Madness analysis reveals the following:

  • There were 181 million viewers across TV, online, and out-of-home. 
  • Live streaming broke records within the first 2 weekends, with 45 million video streams (up 158%) and 12.6 million hours of live-streaming video (up 201%).
  • Mobile viewing went from 43% to 68% from the 1st weekend to the 2nd.
  • There were 7.7 million social media comments during game telecasts. 
  • There were 1.5 billion online conversations about corporate partners during the tournament.
  • There were 70 million Facebook interactions.

Lesson: Help the event and it will help you.  Social makes a big deal bigger, and you can facilitate and bask in that glow.  

A study by MEC, Australian TV network Seven, and Neuro-Insight used neuroscience to quantify the impact of the 2nd screen on viewer awareness and engagement.  There are an average 4 social interactions during a program, a cumulative increase of 23% in program engagement, and the impact on viewers included a “heightened receptivity to details.”  That’s good, actionable news for brands socially attached to the programming. 

Lesson: Events and content fight half the battle for you.  They draw a crowd.  Your job is to use social to bring additional fun to that detail-receptive crowd, and get credit for it.

Super Bonus Free Lesson: Get ready, you as brands will be increasingly tasked with staging your own events, creating your own content and drawing your own crowds.  And it’s got to be about what your fans like, not what you like.

More Browsing and Sources:



Get the latest changes and innovations to social technology platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube, and learn where social marketing trends are headed.

Connect With Us


« February 2016