How Elite Brands Survive and Thrive in March Madness Marketing

This year’s March Madness tournament has officially begun, and college basketball fans all around the country are celebrating.

Despite the fact that creating the ideal March Madness bracket is practically impossible, millions of people participate in the iconic tradition each year and watch the live games on television. The prestigious NCAA tournament attracts both die-hard fans and those who are just jumping on the bandwagon.

And what would March Madness be without the participation of sponsors in the excitement? This year, a 30-second commercial during a Final Four game can cost up to $2 million, with total ad expenditure surpassing $1 billion for the first time.

Because of the substantial investments, the stakes are quite high. So, who has the best March Madness marketing approach and will be able to take it all the way? And who is at risk of being eliminated? To find out, we went to Sprout Social’s Advanced Listening feature for help.

Let’s have a look at the findings and a few pointers to assist your company stay competitive.

Allow the games to begin.

First and foremost, we wanted to find out how many individuals are participating in the March Madness discourse on social media.

March Madness-related subjects received more than 576,000 interactions and 1.57 billion impressions on Twitter in only the first two days of the tournament, according to the event’s official Twitter account. While the First Four games were being played on both days, the volume peaked after 6 p.m. CST on both days.

From there, the level of internet fandom continued to rise. As of the completion of the first round (on March 17-18), the overall number of engagements had increased to 2.3 million, with potential impressions totaling more than 5.8 billion.

Engagements declined somewhat to 1.92 million during the second round (and first weekend of play, March 19-20), while impressions fell slightly to 3.84 billion during the second round.

In addition, we investigated which states and areas were the most engaged. New York, New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, and North Carolina were the states with the greatest overall number of engagements between March 14 and March 21. It should come as no surprise that the fan bases in those states are strongly supportive of the teams advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

Overall, the social performance of the tournament has been outstanding, highlighting the possibilities for marketers that participate in March Madness. But what did some of the most successful businesses do to distinguish themselves from the competition?

Brands are propelled ahead by hashtags.

To hashtag or not to hashtag? That is the question. That has been a perennial question. Hashtags are an important aspect of some marketers’ March Madness strategy, and they should not be overlooked. Each company has its own method to creating content; some use their own hashtags, while others stick to the official #MarchMadness hashtag. So, which technique has proven to be the most successful?

Wendy’s established the hashtag #ForTheWendys to advertise their annual Twitter event, Wendy’s March Madness Pick ‘Em, which is now in its third year. They utilised the hashtag to encourage their followers to post their team selections so that they may be eligible to win prizes. Between March 14 and March 21, the hashtag #ForTheWendys got over 1,000 engagements (including 934 likes) and 4.35 million potential impressions on social media.

For their part, FanDuel chose the hashtag #MarchMadness to accompany their Twitter tweets, which have resulted in a flurry of hilarious memes throughout the tournament. They received around 1,000 engagements between March 14th and March 21st, similar to Wendy’s. However, their potential impressions totaled 22.29 million, outstripping Wendy’s by a factor of several million. Another endorsement came from FanDuel’s partner, the Phoenix Suns, which helped to raise even more attention for the company’s products and services.

The use of hashtags increases your potential impressions and other critical metrics by participating in the already-existing March Madness buzz and activity. While both brand-specific and generic hashtags may be used to interact with your audience, #MarchMadness is the most important for generating impressions and spreading awareness. For those who want to achieve this, consider adding it into your content and concentrating on pieces that offer memorable tournament highlights.

Name, image, and likeness (NIL): A new marketplace for influencers is emerging….

A landmark Supreme Court ruling issued this summer permitted university athletes to be compensated for the first time for the use of their name, image, and likeness. There has been an explosion in the past year of multimillion-dollar industries. Student-athletes are collaborating with a variety of businesses, ranging from tiny college town restaurants to large companies like as Nike. During March Madness, businesses are bringing their existing connections to a whole new level of sophistication.

Drew Timme and Dollar Shave Club collaborated on this project.

Move over, influencers: the “chinfluencer” is here to take their place. For their Noticeably Smooth campaign, Dollar Shave Club teamed up with Drew Timme, the reigning king of facial hair and power forward, to serve as the ambassador. The campaign mimics influencers and offers Dollar Shave Club the Drew Timme spin that his massive fan following has come to expect from the brand.

From March 16 to 21, Dollar Shave Club used the hashtag #DrewTimme on Twitter 33 times. They were able to successfully participate in the overall discourse regarding the Gonzaga star thanks to the use of this hashtag. Timme received 4.91 million impressions out of a total of 52 million possible impressions from tweets referencing the brand.

They fell short of their goal by only producing 160,000 potential impressions with #Chinfluencer, their brand-specific hashtag. This is less than 1% of the total number of impressions around Drew Timme. The benefits of joining current March Madness conversations, even if you wish to start your own, are demonstrated in this example.

Athletes from the NCAA teamed up with Bose.

Due to the use of Bose noise cancelling headphones, these collegiate basketball players are unable to hear their detractors, or anything else, for that matter. Bose collaborated with Aliyah A. Boston, Chet Holmgren, Jalen Duren, and Wendell Moore in order to raise awareness of their #RuleTheQuiet campaign.

The sportsmen, Bose, and the hashtag #RuleTheQuiet received more than 576,000 total Twitter engagements and 1.57 billion total impressions during the campaign’s run from March 16-20.

Partnerships with NCAA players are a certain method to tap into a devoted fan base while also increasing your social media stats. Using the players’ hashtags and tagging them can help you achieve greater success than depending just on your brand’s hashtags.

What your company can do to cause a commotion.

When dealing with a large-scale event like March Madness, it’s easy to become lost in the crowd. However, there is still time to make changes to your approach.

Begin by keeping up with what your target audience is talking about and the hashtags they’re using on social media platforms. Make use of large-scale hashtags like as #MarchMadness to raise exposure for your business and participate in conversations about the athletes (even if you don’t have a partnership with them yet).

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