Do you know what #MarchMadness is? Along with the Super Bowl and the soccer #WorldCup – it’s actually one of the most watched sports events on the planet.
This year, we used Mention to monitor to what happened before, during and after the highly anticipated sport event on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
In order to have the best and most relevant results, we created the following boolean alert.
This means that we tracked all conversations including:
- “NCAA”, “March Madness” and “2019”
- The hashtag “#MarchMadness”
What is March Madness, and why is it so important?
March Madness is the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association or University Basketball League) men’s and women’s basketball tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship, for a total of 67 games.
With an average of 10 million viewers each year, and 5.6 million viewers per game, March Madness is definitely a key event for brands to communicate their messages to focused audiences.
This year, the Virginia Cavaliers won the NCAA Championship against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. But our analysis revealed that the defeated team triggered the most conversations on social media (60% vs. 40%).
A phenomenon we also witnessed during the latest Super Bowl Final.
We caught 134K mentions about the Virginia Cavaliers, and 202K about the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Surprisingly enough, the most discussed team did not even reach the final.
The 10 most discussed #MarchMadness teams from March 19th to April 8th
While the Cavaliers won the title, they are not the ones gathering the most mentions online. Nor are the other finalists, Red Raiders. Clearly carried by Zion Williamson (see below), the Duke Blue Devils generated to most noise during the event.
- Duke Blue Devils: 234K mentions
- Texas Tech Red Raiders: 201K mentions
- Virginia Cavaliers: 132K mentions
- Tennessee Volunteers: 115K mentions
- North Carolina Tar Heels: 103K mentions
- Kentucky Wildcats: 101K mentions
- Purdue Boilermakers: 94K mentions
- Michigan State Spartans: 93K mentions
- LSU Tigers: 58K mentions
- Houston Cougars: 52K mentions
Now, the most important topic this year was not a team. It was someone: Zion Williamson.
The sensation: Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson is a college basketball player for the Duke Blue Devils. As of today, he’s thought to be the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
This year, we listened to the noise generated by the young prodigy using a targeted boolean alert.
With 421K+ mentions, Zion generated more noise than any other team participating in the tournament. This kind of coverage sends clear signals to brands looking for influencers to communicate their key messages and promote their products.
Listening to the conversations around Zion led us to identified 3 key events:
1. March 24th: At the top of his game, Zion scored 32 points, delivered 4 assists and totaled 11 rebounds in the short win (77-76) against the UCF Knights. This was enough to trigger more than 54K discussions across the internet.
2. March 31st: This marks the end of the tournament for Zion and the Duke Blue Devils. An unexpected loss that almost triggered over 75K discussions.
3. April 7th: While he and his team lost, Zion Williamson was named Naismith Player of the year (meaning best player of the NCAA 2019 league) on April 7th, generating, once more, noise on the internet. That being said, we caught a lot less conversations this time (18K+ “only”).
What can we learn from this?
Whatever the reason, whatever the event, people love drama.
On March 31st, we caught 75K conversations following the Duke’s defeat to Michigan State. On April 7th, when Zion Williamson received the highest distinction of the year’s league for a single player, we only caught about 19K conversations.
Bottom line: people talk more about dramatic events. Most fans expected this to happen, so there was not much to discuss after all.
3 factors you need for a successful event
The fact that March Madness was yet again a successful sports event this year is not entirely due to what happened on the court. I
ts success is mainly due to the fact that influencers, journalists and regular Joes, like you and I, joined key conversations.
1. Influencers and brands triggering conversations
Did you know that 1 in 2 consumers will believe anything an influencer says online?
Or that 84% of consumers trust online reviews (vastly shared by influencers) as much as their close friends’ recommendations?
Influencers getting involved in conversations about an event, a product or a service will make an event’s reputation.
This year, many celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and even Barack Obama mentioned the March Madness on the internet.
Here is a post from Fallon. As I’m writing this article, this post has already generated 422K+ views and thousands of likes and shares.
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) April 8, 2019
As silly as it looks, I have to admit it’s quite entertaining. Well done, Jimmy.
2. Top tier press coverage
CNN, ESPN, MTV, TIME, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Google (etc.), most top tiers outlets mentioned the #MarchMadness at some point, contributing to giving the event international coverage.
This coverage resulted in a total of 52.5 billion impressions between March 19th and April 8th.
We did the math. This means that 37.5% of us (humans) were potentially exposed daily to the event, for 20 days straight.
Check our public dashboard to learn more about this.
3. A working gamification process
Each year, millions of sports fans try their luck by forecasting the results of the March Madness tournament. This time, we caught 62K+ mentions about the famous March Madness Brackets.
Here’s what this year’s bracket looked like.
Now, there are so many games and therefore so many possibilities that some say you have 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (or 9.2 quintillion) chances of getting it right.
In fact, ever since 1939, no one ever did.
Now, this doesn’t stop fans from trying to get the perfect bracket each year. This gamification process even had Barack Obama himself involved.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 21, 2019
When Barack Obama jumps in the conversation and plays your game, you know your event is probably a success.
He actually got one of the finalists in the women’s tournament: the Baylor Lady Birds.
Identify and understand everything that’s happening
Millions of people, brands, and influencers are talking and sharing their thoughts on the internet all the time.
At times (most of the time actually), what they say will probably be of no value to you and your business. Now, if and when they make comments on your brand, you want to make sure you’re able to keep track of them.
That’s where a tool like Mention comes in, to keep track of everything that’s said about your brand, your services or products, employees, competition, etc.
You name it.
Now, what did you think about this year’s Madness? Are you surprised by our findings? Share your thoughts in the comment section!