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NCAA tracks Final Four sponsor mentions on social to gauge ROI

During the Final Four, the NCAA's digital and social team created geofences around key venues using the Geofeedia social media intelligence platform to monitor nearly 10 million real-time posts across multiple networks. Adding another dimension to efforts to discover and engage with fans on social, the exercise also allowed the organization to analyze conversations and enhance fans' experiences by answering customer service questions, addressing security concerns, identifying and contacting users who posted photos of tickets to help mitigate counterfeiting and sharing user-generated content on large display screens.

?The more a brand listens, the better it is in reacting to consumers in a real-time world,? said Jeff Hasen, founder and CEO of Gotta Mobilize, Seattle. ?Many studies show that mobile users have high and even increasing expectations that a comment about an event or brand will be seen, reviewed, and responded to quickly.?

Critical tool
Location-based social media monitoring is quickly becoming a critical tool in helping marketers to avoid missing much of the conversation about their brands and industry on social networks when they rely only on hashtags and keywords.

Understanding the importance and complexities of social media listening helped the NCAA raise its game for the Final Four in Indianapolis last month. 

Geofeedia at March Madness.

They needed a better way to cut through the noise on social media and discover and engage with social media users posting at specific locations of interest across Indianapolis. 

The NCAA team leveraged Geofeedia to draw perimeters around various locations and then discover, engage with, and analyze social media conversations. 

From welcoming fans to town to answering customer service questions, the team responded in real-time in an attempt to deliver satisfying fan experiences.

It paid special attention to people who posted pictures of their tickets or media credentials. The team was able to immediately identify and contact users and recommend they remove photos that put them at risk for social-savvy counterfeiters. 

The NCAA Digital Team used Geofeedia to monitor social activity from late March 2015 through the championship game. During March Madness, the tournament grossed a record 350 million social impressions across Facebook and Twitter. Nearly 10 million of those were posted during the Final Four, and almost 500,000 came during the event week. 

The 2015 NCAA Men?s Division I basketball tournament highlighted the growing importance of social in live sporting events. For instance, Buffalo Wild Wings tapped the natural affinity between social and major sports events to drive customer engagement in a campaign that branded the casual dining chain as the official hangout of the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament.

The campaign, #WingWisdom, also leveraged TV, digital, in-restaurant activations and on-site Final Four experiences to bring to life Buffalo Wild Wings? take on sports, food and fandom during one of the sports calendar?s most-watched events. 

Mass viewership
Social media?s role in the Final Four pointed to why the channel attracted more of marketers? budgets during mass viewership TV events such as the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.
Social and the NCAA tournament are a natural pairing.

?If you can find an old public relations book, it will say that a business can lose the battle for public opinion in two hours,? Mr. Hasen said. ?These days, it is closer to two minutes. 

?The more ears and eyes that brands have on the conversation, the better,? he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York