The NCAA tournament is underway, and with the first two rounds full of upsets, most fans’ hopes for a perfect bracket have been crushed. As people tuned in on screens around the country to watch the early games take place, 4C kept a finger on the pulse of digital conversation around teams favored to win, notable upsets, and brands associated with the tournament.
With many early unexpected results making the tournament title anybody’s game, social media has been abuzz with conversation, leading to over 1.3 million engagements with #MarchMadness so far. Heading into the tournament, the University of Michigan led the pack in terms of overall social media engagement, and continues to lead after the rounds of 64 and 32. However, when comparing the volume of engagement amassed over the last week versus the week before Selection Sunday, UMBC, the first men’s #16 seed in history to defeat a #1 seed in the first round of the tournament, leads the way with a 2,574% lift in engagement. In the day following their defeat of #1 Virginia, UMBC, which quickly gained the internet’s attention, saw a 24,111% lift in engagement.
Three weeks of games provide many opportunities for brands to leverage the tournament’s audience across screens. Combining our proprietary Teletrax TV monitoring technology with social media engagement data, we found the TV advertisers that have seen the greatest lift in social media engagement in the two minutes following spots during March Madness programming so far. Sherwin-Williams has seen the greatest lift, with ads showing animals constructed from paint samples. Ads that compare a kangaroo’s pouch to the Hanes Comfort Flex pouch earned the brand the second spot.
Official NCAA sponsors are also seeing a lift in engagement thanks to their association with the tournament, with Capital One seeing the greatest lift during the first rounds.
Before games began, we used the 4C Insights Affinity Graph™ to find the restaurants that people who engage with March Madness on social media are also engaging with, and found official sponsor Wendy’s at the top of the list. After a little over a week of game-play, Wendy’s still leads the group in terms of social media engagement.
While team handles are garnering the most attention on social media, the mascots for some programs are also generating buzz. Leading into the tournament, Butler’s mascot, Butler Blue III, was the most engaged mascot, but Syracuse’s Otto the Orange has seen the greatest lift in engagement, thanks in part to the team’s upset of #3 Michigan State in the 2nd round.
As the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds happen over the next few days, we’ll continue to monitor buzz around the tournament. Come back next week for a recap before the tournament heads into its final stretch toward crowning a new National Champion.