Check out this awesome interactive March Madness bracket which displays how the public at the Vegas sports books are betting on the tournament.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
NCAA RECRUITING MEETS SOCIAL MEDIA
by Emily Droessler / @EmilyDroessler
According to the official rules of Social Media and Recruiting on the NCAA website, the NCAA does “not allow comments about possible recruits on an institution’s social media page or a page belonging to someone affiliated with the institution”.
Twitter has become one of the more popular recruiting tools in college athletics and tweeting is permissible as long as coaches are not using it to contact individual prospective student-athletes. Coaches also have to make sure that they abide by the recruiting rules; this means that they cannot post about specific results.
Social media is a free service that has turned every person into a reporter and has allowed every tweet or comment to be over-analyzed and shared publicly. The NCAA limits the number of phone calls made to recruits and bans text messaging, but when it comes to social media it is far less regulated. Of course coaches are not allowed to write on Facebook walls or tweet directly at recruits but they are able to send private messages on Facebook or direct messages via Twitter.
What good does it do a coach who is thinking about recruiting a player but on whom no decision has been made? Coaches can keep track of whom the recruits are friending and following, which gives them useful information on who else is interested in the recuits.
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING CAN BE FOR THE WORSE
The use of social media for college football recruiting can be negative however. In January it led to an expulsion of a high school player – Yuri Wright from Don Bosco.
Wright was expelled in January for comments he made on Twitter that were allegedlyy sexually graphic or racist in nature.
Not only was Wright expelled from high school but schools like Michigan stopped recruiting him.
Wright, who has since committed to play football at Colorado, said he hopes others will learn from his mistakes. “Hopefully, other people will learn from what happened to me and make smarter choices,” he said, “My days with social media are over, I promise. No more Twitter. No more Facebook.”
SO HOW CAN SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING STAY POSITIVE?
Many recruits, including Matt Cochran from Buhach High School in California, are using social media in a way that portrays a positive image and gets their name out there. Cochran was able to jump-start recruitment by Facebook messaging numerous coaches across the country with a link to a YouTube video of his highlight reel. Before sending messages Cochran said his recruitment process was rather slow but after the messages it was anything but.
Norm Roberts, a coach at St. John’s, reluctantly had to get Facebook last August because he found it nearly impossible to call kids on the phone and have them answer. “They don’t want to communicate like that,” he said.
Coaches and recruits say that 50 percent of their recruiting action comes from Facebook. Twitter is in second and gaining ground quickly. Twitter will soon be number one because of the ability to direct message a player with a note that is short and simple. Evan Daniels, a national basketball recruiting analyst, says, “If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, you may be a step behind.”
Social media can also stay positive through social media monitoring. One leader in this market is Varsity Monitor. Varsity Monitor monitors the activity of student-athletes on social networking websites by looking for key words or inappropriate material on their personal accounts and then reporting that content. They do social media account monitoring and web monitoring along with sharing social media guidelines and educating their clients.
When and if an athlete posts something inappropriate both the administrators and coaches will be notified by the compliance office. There are also notifications sent when 3rd party users mention athletes. In the past, schools would make fake accounts and send friend requests to secretly find out information. Not only does this use of monitoring benefit the athlete in college but it prepares them for post-college when they will need to be monitoring their own social media use to land a job.
The work done by Varsity Monitor is going to be something that other colleges will want to utilize in the very near future, as current clients like the University of North Carolina, University of Nebraska, University of Texas, and Villanova can attest.
WHY HAS SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING TAKEN OFF?
Recruiting via social media has partly taken off due to the fact that the NCAA barred coaches from text-messaging athletes back in 2007. The increasing use of social media is symbolic of communication trends for this generation. Voice mails are considered annoying, e-mails are out-of-date, and phone conversations are just awkward.
Phone calls to recruits are limited to once a month for juniors and twice a week for seniors while Facebook and Twitter communication is unlimited during contact periods. Many players receive Facebook and Twitter notifications on their cell phones which is similar to receiving a text message, except this is legal.
WHAT ARE RECRUITS AND COACHES SAYING ABOUT THIS NEW TREND?
“Almost every recruit is on Twitter and Facebook. It’s a good way to get in touch with recruits.”
-Keon Hatcher | Arkansas wide receiver commit
“Social media is a huge part of our culture. It’s the way most people communicate.”
-Bill O’Brien | Penn State football coach
“It’s not a hassle, where they call you and you have to be on the phone for a long time. It’s just like a message. It’s a great way to contact me.”
-Narlens Noel |one of the top five basketball prospects nationally for a junior
“It’s probably the only way to communicate with recruits.”
-Dana Holgorsen | West Virginia football coach