by Emily Droessler / @EmilyDroessler
Now that it’s officially March, the talk about March Madness and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will soon be everywhere–and all over social media. Facebook statuses will explode, Twitter retweets will skyrocket and Foursquare check-ins at basketball games will likely go through the roof . With the big games slated to begin on March 13th, what can we expect for social media this year?
The number of people who watch the tournament at home on their TVs is extraordinary and the games will, once again, be available on CBS, TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Through mobile devices, Turner Sports, CBS Sports, and the NCAA will provide college basketball fans with more opportunities to watch every minute of every game in the 2012 tournament.
So of course we can watch the games on TVs, computer screens, and cell phones but what else do we want when watching our favorite sports team? We want interaction. This is where social media comes into play.
Coke Zero and the NCAA have teamed up again to bring the fans an online platform of mixing the tournament with social media: Social Arena. USA Today reported that Coke spent 2% of their NCAA tournament ad budget on social media two years ago and 20% last year. It will be interesting to see what they will spend this year. When visiting the Social Arena you will find Twitter updates from broadcasters, handles and hashtags from your favorite teams, players and coaches, social stats, and other information.
So what’s new this year with Social Arena? Fans will be allowed to take key moments and share these with family and friends. They will be able to view commentary from other fans and celebrities across the country, answer trivia, and of course, cheer for their favorite teams. This will be linked to Coke Zero’s Facebook page for easy access.
Everybody loves filling out their brackets and it is not uncommon for fans to have brackets through work, family, friends, and even groups of fans online. So where will you go to make your online bracket this year? Here are just a few of the choices:
- Yahoo! Sports Tourney Pick ‘Em
Can you make a perfect bracket? If you answered yes than you will be the lucky winner of $5 million. Even if you don’t have the perfect bracket but get first place you’ll still receive a nice chunk of change; $10,000.
- Facebook Bracket
Last year, Facebook had a Social Bracket where the team with the most “likes” was the winner of the tournament. The entire bracket was based on the number of “likes” each team had. This means if you wanted your team in the championship you had to hop on Facebook and “like” your favorite team and then share that as a status to get more fans behind your team! It has not been confirmed if this will be happening again in 2012 but it should be back and better than ever.
- ESPN Tournament Challenge
There will be no prize for a perfect bracket through ESPN but first place will land you $10,000 while second will get your hands on a $5,000 prize.
- CBS Bracket Challenge
The CBS Bracket Challenge is easy when it comes to social integration because it is accessible as a Facebook app. The winner will not get any cash but instead can get a chance to win a luxury trip to the 2013 NCAA Final Four.
PlayUp, the social sports app, has recently made its way into the list of top ten sports apps. The app launched in October of 2011 so this is their first March Madness. The app allows fans to check scores, chat with other fans, tweet and create private social groups. Dennis Lee, PlayUp USA’s CEO, says that their company’s app takes fan engagement to a whole new level because it has the power to connect people all around the world.
The NCAA March Madness Live (formerly March Madness on Demand) app will be available for purchase on March 7th for a one-time price of $3.99. This app is sponsored by Verizon and is available for both Apple and Android (for the first time ever). So what does this app have to offer that is better than all of the other live streaming apps? Turner Sports, CBS Sports, and the NCAA say it “allows you to watch all 67 games of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament live on your computer, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or select Android phones. In addition, the application allows you to keep track of scores, schedules, the NCAA tournament bracket, social activity and much, much more.”
As we all know, Twitter plays a huge role in sports marketing and March Madness will be no exception. While teams will use Twitter for marketing, fans will use Twitter to cheer on their favorite teams by tweeting, retweeting and replying to each other. Twitter will be, as always, providing live updates from numerous games from a number of college hoop experts (and those that think they’re experts). The official account to follow will be @MarchMadness , which is currently sitting at almost 27,000 followers; expect that to rise rapidly once the tournament begins.
FACEBOOK FAN BADGE
Are you a true fan that would post a fan badge on your Facebook? You can choose from all of the teams and then post that team’s badge on your profile. The badge will tell you your fan number and also how your predictions stack up with the rest of the nation.
. . . . .
More than 176 million people tuned into the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship last year. Only time will tell if those 176 million people will be interacting on social media as well. Will it be Facebook? Twitter? Or is it just an online bracket for a chance to win $1 million?