It’s almost that time of year when sports fanatics everywhere are talking about basketballs, brackets busters, and buzzer beaters. Yes, we’re talking about March Madness!
It’s fair to say it’s one of the biggest and most talked about events in the US sporting calendar, with millions of viewers tuning in each year to cheer on their team in the NCAA March Madness Tournament. With 68 college basketball teams all battling to survive three weekends of games to be crowned the national champions, one thing is for sure – it’s a wild ride of excitement.
Before, during, and even long after the final buzzer, March Madness has fans enthralled – with social media playing a massive role in how they engage with the excitement that the tournament has to offer.
How do fans use social media to engage with March Madness?
So how exactly does the biggest showcase of college basketball create a buzz across social? Below, we’ll take a look at a couple of stats shared by Twitter that show how viewers – from basketball diehards to casual fans – are engaging with March Madness.
- On Twitter, there’s a 291% increase in video views on college basketball content during the event.
- 59% of fans tweeted about basketball for the first time during the event in 2021
- 67% of those tweeting about the NCAA tournament have also tweeted about the NBA
The opportunity of March Madness for social teams
Win or lose, March Madness provides a huge opportunity for athletic departments to drive brand awareness for colleges and universities. A 2008 study found that making it into the men’s NCAA tournament alone produced a 1% increase in applications the following year. And each round a team advances amplifies this increase, with the winning school seeing as much as an 8% increase in applications!
Adding to this is the sponsorship side of things – more and more brands are investing in marketing collaborations with both college basketball teams and their players. So, there’s lots of opportunity to be had through executing a solid March madness social strategy.
Slam-dunk social ideas for March Madness
So how can your team score big on social this March Madness? Take a look through our March Madness marketing ideas and tips below.
Tip #1: Plan out your content per platform
With a big event like March Madness, it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to carving out your social media strategy. That’s why we recommend starting by taking it back to the basics.
First, you’ll want to consider the platforms where your fans will be hanging out. Many sports fans take to the Twitter stands to share their opinions, follow match commentary, and engage with fans – so you’ll want to be active here. Then there are the newer platforms that attract the younger generation, such as TikTok and Snapchat.
Once you have an idea of the platforms you intend to be active on throughout March Madness, you’ll want to consider what type of content you need to be producing per platform. After all, to achieve optimum engagement levels in today’s competitive market, content can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach. Here are just a few examples of how you can plan out your content per platform.
- Live game commentary
- Team news and team sheets
- Retweeting fan content
- Ticket information
- Behind-the-scenes content
- Game highlights
- Q&A sessions
- Live streams
- Visual game day graphics
- Professional player photography
Having a clear understanding of what content you need to be creating per channel will truly streamline your social media planning. Below, we’ve gone ahead and shared some more detailed ideas for march madness social media campaigns and content you can start planning today.
Tip #2: Jump on trends and pop culture
A key strategy to ramp up engagement during this year’s March Madness is to create content that taps into popular culture trends. Content that always goes down well with sports fans in particular is funny memes that reference popular movies, TV shows, or pop culture moments and relate them to a certain scenario. This is a great way to connect with your audience through humour while showcasing brand personality.
Your social team should also look at utilizing trends on TikTok throughout March Madness. TikTok is a rapidly growing social media platform with a younger audience – a demographic that sports teams are often trying to engage with to both increase applications to the college and bring in more fans. Keep your eyes peeled on trending themes, popular hashtags, and trending sounds, and then consider how you can apply these to your March Madness social media posts.
Here’s a great example of trending content from the official March Madness TikTok account:
@marchmadnessmbb March Madness mascots and their PROBLEMS. 😂🏀 #marchmadness #auburntigers #dukebasketball #fullerton #miamihurricanes #jacksonvillestate #michiganstate #davidson #uscbasketball #fyp ♬ original sound – March Madness
Tip #3: Share User-Generated-Content (UGC)
If anything’s for certain, it’s that us working in social are always on the lookout for ways to save time and effort. I mean, how else is our never-ending to-list list going to get done? One way to do this is by utilizing user-generated content (UGC) this March Madness.
Keep tabs on your mentions and team hashtags for any cool content being created by your fans. This could be pictures of their brackets, group shots of them watching the game, or a Tweet expressing their excitement. Sharing UGC content not only gives you lots of great (and free) content to work with, but it also has many other benefits including:
- Helps to create a sense of community among fans and followers
- Enables fans to feel more connected to your team
- Encourages more fans to tag you in content
- Builds a great picture of your brand
Tip #4: Bring your fans backstage
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the rise of sports documentaries such as Amazon’s All or Nothing and Netflix’s Last Chance U, it’s that fans simply love to catch a behind-the-scenes look at a sports team.
Though you might not have the budget of Amazon and Netflix, you should capitalize on this trend by creating your own BTS content for your March Madness marketing campaigns. The tournament will bring thousands of eyes to your team over the tournament, and giving them a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors is a surefire way of keeping them all fired up and engaged in your content.
This could include a look at the team’s practices, games, and other events, from the POV of an insider via photos, videos, and live streams of the team’s activities. You could also host March Madness Q&A sessions on social media, where fans can ask questions to players and coaches, giving fans a chance to learn more about the team’s personalities and perspectives. Through this fly-on-the-wall type content, you can build up an engaged community with your fans, allowing them to get to know the team on a deeper and more meaningful level that goes beyond a team photo.
@thed3guys D3 life’s not too bad🤷🏽♂️ #D3 #hooping #euphoria #fyp #foryou #lifescrazy ♬ Forever – Labrinth
Tip #5: Show off your brand personality
In recent years, more brands and sports teams are developing strong brand personalities that are shining through on social. Gone are the days when fans are happy with simple game updates and teamsheets. Oh no! Today, brands on social are forming greater connections with their audience through communicating, well, more like an actual human. Much like human connections, it’s those awesome brand personalities that leave a lasting impression on a fan and keep us much more engaged in what they have to say.
The way sports teams are becoming braver and more playful with their social updates is showing to pay off. Communicating a brand personality on social helps to boost engagement, build an approachable and authentic sports brand, foster emotional connections with your fans, help to communicate your team values, and ultimately, help you stand out from the crowd. For more on brand personalities on social media, check out our previous blog on the topic.
Take a look at this example of Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball showing their fans a little taster of that brand personality during last year’s March Madness
TO EVERYONE WHO DOUBTED: 😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝 pic.twitter.com/hcWaRHmHGs
— Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball 🐗 (@RazorbackMBB) March 25, 2022
Tip #6: Ensure your content is on-brand
To expect your fans to recognize you and grow connected to your team, you must show up in a way that’s both professional and consistent. This same principle should be applied to your marketing content. Visual branding on social has become more essential than ever before. Much like team jerseys, banners, and merch, content that is branded in your team front and colors helps to boost your brand awareness and distinguish your team from the rest.
Sports teams everywhere are achieving higher levels of engagement through the impressive social media content they’re churning out on a daily basis. Using captivating designs and visual content, they can keep fans connected and engaged across social media platforms – from Instagram Stories to Twitter graphics.
During March Madness, you must be branding your content to achieve the best engagement from fans possible. You might be thinking “yes that sounds good, but it also sounds like a lot of effort…”. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
At Slate, we have been helping sports social media teams across the US and beyond level up their social media marketing with branded content. With our all-in-one content creation tool, social media marketers can churn out endless content while maintaining super high levels of quality and instant brand recognizability – and this applies to the creation of March Madness branded content. We like to think of ourselves as a team’s best-kept secret for social media success. Check out how The Lakers used Slate to take brand consistency to the next level on social media during the 2020 NBA Playoffs here.
Let the games begin!
Managing your team’s social media during March Madness can certainly feel like a huge task, especially if you’re a small team or a one-man band. But with a solid strategy in place and a clear understanding of where your fans are and what content they want to see, it can also be an incredible opportunity to engage with fans and build brand awareness. By knowing your platforms, staying on top of the latest trends, and creating high-quality and on-brand content, your basketball team can capitalize on the buzz and energy of the tournament without feeling mounting pressure. With the right approach, March Madness can be a slam dunk for your social media presence.
Score big with Slate
Here at Slate, we’re here to make the process of creating engaging, March Madness-branded content an absolute breeze with our all-in-one content creation platform. Explore our features and schedule a demo today!
Intrigued to hear more? Watch this video to see Slate in action.