Monday, March 15, 2010

March Madness Another Great Opportunity for Social Media

By Abby Draper

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament, with the announcing of the 64 teams that will play for the Championship on April 5. While March Madness has always been an exciting time of year for college students, alumnus, and sports fans, this year marketing professionals are added to the mix.

With social media marketing still on the rise, brands are looking forward to taking advantage of the endless opportunities during the tournament. “It’s the ultimate sporting event for social media” says Jason Knit, GM of

USA Today lists the top-5 ways in which marketers are chatting about the tournament through social media:

Involvement. Coke Zero is sponsoring a Department of Fannovation Brain Bracket asking fans to vote online for the best idea to improve the tournament. "We're empowering fans to shake up the status quo in college basketball," says Linda Cronin, director of interactive media.

Phone apps. MillerCoors launched an iPhone app, Tip 'n Spin, in which folks earn points by balancing a basketball on a Miller Lite bottle. "Marketers struggled in the past for a forum for daily interaction with consumers," says Mike Davitt, Miller Lite marketing chief. Social media offer that forum.

Contests. Applebee's is offering $1 million to whomever picks the winners of all 63 tourney games via its Facebook page with Twitter updates.

Sweepstakes. Papa John's Papa's in the House Hoops Sweepstakes on Facebook let fans pick the prize: a $2,000 shopping spree and pizza for a year, says Jim Ensign, digital marketing chief.

Sex appeal. Captain Morgan rum is asking fans to pick their favorite Morganette (women who tout the brand at bars) on Facebook to win a free trip to Las Vegas. "This is how our target customer lives his life," says Tom Herbst, marketing chief. "He chats, e-mails and watches TV on his computer. It's where he communicates."

After the success we saw with social media marketing through the Super Bowl and the Olympics, March Madness is sure to only continue to push the bar.

Abby Draper is the Manager of Social Media at Maroon PR. Contact her at

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