How to Play the Social Media Marketing Game During March Madness

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One of the biggest opportunities for marketers is right around the corner - March Madness! As March rolls around this year, college basketball players from every corner of the United States lace up their shoes in an attempt to win the national title. While the college athletes are getting ready to battle it out on the court, so are marketers, but on the social media front.

>Find out why it is crucial for your brand to get in on the social media action and how to do it effectively!

March Madness | Social Media Platforms 

When putting together your March Madness social media plan, the first step is to identify your objective and then understand which platforms will be most effective for your brand. Not all social media platforms are created equal and, therefore, not all are necessary for every company. With that being said, let’s take a look at how each platform performed during last year’s March Madness.


When it comes to real-time updates and overall chatter, Twitter is the obvious winner. We see this time and time again from large events like the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards; there is no doubt that live-tweeting dominates during these big cultural moments. In 2016, the cross-channel analytics provider Origami Logic analyzed and monitored over 200 big name brands during March Madness and found that 71 percent of total activity (posts) took place on Twitter. However, when it came to overall engagement, Twitter came in as one of the lowest engaging platforms.

Learn more about how Twitter continues to change the way we experience events.


Though Twitter dominated the activity portion this past year, Facebook contributed nearly 60 percent of total engagement across all social channels, according to Origami. When it comes to activity, it is no surprise that Facebook leads due to the platform’s overall shareability of various content types, in addition to the ability to share it with different audiences.


Over the last few years, Instagram has made major leaps and bounds to find itself at the forefront of social media, especially during major events like March Madness. In 2016, Instagram was the leader for engagement rate by channel with Facebook falling not too far behind. When it comes to engagement throughout this year's games, Instagram will be the platform to watch.


Today, Google+ is still one of the largest social media networks based on population. However, the platform doesn’t hold its own when it comes to big event engagement like March Madness. As stated by Origami, Google+ boasted the lowest channel use and engagement when it came to March Madness in 2016.  

Establishing Your Social Plan of Attack

When putting together your social media plan this March Madness, one of the key pieces to a great campaign (beside the content you will be pushing) is when you will be distributing your posts. What many marketers may find surprising is that the highest amount of engagement and awareness this past year took place pre- and post-games across channels when there was less post volume. When putting together your plan, take into account that posting the day of a game may not yield the most engagement, so try joining in on the hype before or after.

Getting Creative With Your Brand's Approach

No matter your brand’s target market, top brands such as Reese’s, Coca-Cola and Nike have shown us time and time again that a good marketing strategy doesn't necessarily talk about the event itself, but instead finds creative ways to connect their product or service to the event. Let’s take a look at a few brands that did an outstanding job getting creative with their campaign last year.

March Madness Social Media Marketing | Reese’s 

The emotional roller coaster has come to a glorious end. #MarchMood #NCAAChampionship #MarchMadness



March Madness Social Media Marketing | Mayhem from AllState 

The feeling you get after losing to an 11 seed. #MayhemGIFS #MarchMayhem



March Madness Social Media Marketing | Papa John’s Pizza 

Papa John’s gift cards are always a slam dunk.



March Madness Social Media Marketing | Nike 

Always reppin’ and always has your back. That’s family. #BringYourGame



Top 10 Most Engaged Brands During March Madness

This past year was one for the books when it came to March Madness engagement across social media platforms. However, there were some clear-cut winners. The brands that brought in the most engagement included:

  1. Oreo

  2. KFC

  3. LG

  4. Coca-Cola Zero

  5. Buffalo Wild Wings

  6. Target

  7. New Balance

  8. Pizza Hut

  9. Capital One

  10. Degree Men


Don't Forget About Mobile!

With 88 percent of March Madness followers using mobile to access highlights and information throughout the tournament, it is important to meet your consumers on their device. Social media today is all about real-time updates. Whether it is the NCAA National Championship, Super Bowl, or any popular awards show, people want their information quickly and in an easy-to-consume format.

Best of Luck to Both the Players and Marketers This March Madness!

Are you ready to take on the social media frenzy that is March Madness? Though it’s a lot of work, it can be worth it in the long run for your brand. If you are unsure of where to begin, our digital marketing team is here to help! Reach out today.

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