March 18th, 2011

Marketers surround March Madness with social media

USA Today

Most folks figure March Madness is about basketball, brackets and bets, but savvy marketers are convinced it now has one more crucial element: social media.

Social media has so utterly infiltrated the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual basketball championships that marketers are knocking their cyberheads together to come up with creative ways to keep consumers engaged.

In a world where millions of viewers will be watching most of the three-week tournament’s games online — some 11.7 million hours of live streaming games occurred in 2010 — social media is a slam-dunk marketing strategy for behemoths such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and AT&T.

Coke is so gung-ho that it’s upped its social-media spending around the tournament tenfold. Coke will spend more than 20% of its tournament budget on social media this year compared with 2% last year.

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