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In 2017, Facebook has taken a much more proactive stance towards getting brands involved in events marketing. In addition to brand strategy guidelines for the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and the Oscars, Facebook has now released a brief “how-to” guide for brands thinking about becoming part of the conversation during March Madness.
If you thought March Madness was only about college basketball, says Facebook, you would be mistaken. It’s become a pop culture and social media phenomenon. In 2016, Facebook reported a 40% spike in social activity compared to the previous year, and the social network is expecting a similar type of spike in 2017.
What to post on Facebook
If your brand has no immediate connection to the NCAA college basketball tournament (what Facebook coyly refers to as “The Big Tournament”) – such as being an advertising sponsor of the tournament – no worries. As Facebook suggests, brands just need to “appeal to the personal, emotive experience of sports.” In fact, two of the most popular themes on Facebook during the tournament – fandom and fashion – have very little to do with the action on the court.
Without getting into the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” argument, it’s clear that men and women talk about different things during the three-week tournament. Men tend to talk about teams, brackets and the basketball being played on the court. Women, on the other hand, tend to talk about college nostalgia, reunions with friends, and parties.
When to post on Facebook
As part of an infographic for the Big Tournament, Facebook points out the best times to post content on Facebook. Interestingly, the peak of the social media action occurs in the first two weeks of the tournament, when most people still have their favorite teams playing. Thus, it’s best to plan your brand posts around the First Round and Second Round of the tournament. The peak for Facebook activity actually comes with the Elite Eight, not the Final Four or the final championship.
How to leverage mobile
As a brand, you need to create content that’s optimized for mobile. According to Facebook, people consume 87% of their March Madness content on mobile devices, and only 13% on the desktop. (That’s perhaps no surprise, if you consider how many people furtively track their teams during the day while at work!) On mobile, the best content is highly visual content that captures the “sights, sound and motion” of the tournament. Video content and action-oriented images work best.
Putting all of the above together, it’s possible to come up with some very easy ideas of how to leverage Facebook during March Madness. In fact, many of the ideas for March Madness will be similar to those for the Super Bowl – keep the focus on people getting together to celebrate and remember old times together, less on the final scores of the games.
As Facebook points out, this is just too big of an opportunity to pass up – over 650 million people are connected to a sports-related page on Facebook, and basketball is the #2 most popular sport on Facebook. So this March, put a little Madness in your brand’s social media marketing strategy!