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Birds of Prey Rule College Basketball

Social Values Soar for Gamecocks, Jayhawks

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Social Media
April 7, 2022
June 21, 2022
 min read

All eight teams that reached this year’s men’s and women’s NCAA Final Fours had banner-worthy seasons, but only one from each event earned the title of champion. And while neither the Kansas Jayhawks’ men nor South Carolina Gamecocks’ women are new to cutting down nets, each had to overcome a more decorated program in their respective championships to reach the pinnacle of college basketball once again. After a convincing victory over Villanova in the men’s semifinal, Kansas found itself trailing by 15 at halftime of the title game against North Carolina before mounting a furious comeback to earn its fourth national championship. In the women’s final, 11-time champion Connecticut stood between South Carolina and a wire-to-wire season as the nation’s top team. But 40 minutes in Minneapolis affirmed what women’s basketball fans suspected all along, and the Gamecocks reigned supreme. Throughout each of the 2022 NCAA Tournaments, MVP monitored the participants on social media to determine who was attracting the most attention online and how valuable their content was. For the final installment of our March Madness series, we examined the Final Four teams’ owned Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts from March 29 through April 5. Our data revealed that throughout the week, they combined to earn more than 8 million social engagements and generate $4.12M worth of post value on team channels. We compared their performances during the period to earlier rounds of the tournament to establish which programs have the greatest online reach and which accounts are growing at the fastest pace.

Rivalry Victory Propels Tar Heels

The two most anticipated men’s college basketball games in the last several years both occurred in the last five weeks, and it was the same matchup and result for each. On the regular season’s final weekend, the North Carolina Tar Heels won at Duke in Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game. But, while that victory was important for nostalgic purposes, the repeat in New Orleans on Saturday secured UNC’s place in the national championship game. And propelled by their victory in the first Tobacco Road rivalry game ever to be played in the men’s NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels led all Final Four participants with $1.44M worth of post value generated from 203 posts during the week. They also increased their average post value by 29% compared to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds. In total, North Carolina led all teams in total engagements and impressions, with 2.8 million and 64.2 million, respectively, throughout the period. Kansas, which generated $1.37M in post value during Final Four week, was the only other men’s team to increase its average post value, engagements, and impressions from the tournament’s previous weekend. Overall, the men’s Final Four teams received 6.5 million engagements and 147 million impressions during the week, with the finalists earning 5.9x more post value than the teams they defeated.

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Dueling Dynasties in Women’s Hoops

When the initial polls for women’s college basketball were released last fall, the South Carolina Gamecocks and Connecticut Huskies were ranked first and second, respectively. USC maintained its standing throughout the year, but injuries and unexpected losses for UConn made for an abnormally inconsistent season in Storrs. Yet, on Sunday night in Minneapolis, the preseason favorites were the last two teams standing. Neither program had ever lost in the championship, but UConn was playing in its 12th, while South Carolina was making only its second appearance in the big game. However, historical records were inconsequential, and the Gamecocks cemented their status as a burgeoning dynasty in women’s college basketball. South Carolina also made waves on social, more than doubling its average post value, engagements, and impressions from the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds. On its owned channels, South Carolina’s post values were up 2.02x to $881.46 per post, and they averaged 39.9K more impressions week-over-week – a bigger boost than both the Duke and Villanova men’s teams. Nevertheless, the old guard still boasted social supremacy, as UConn’s $399.7K worth of total post value was 12.9% higher than USC’s total during the period, and their engagements and impressions were also slightly higher. In tandem, however, the dueling dynasties eclipsed the post value generated by Louisville and Stanford by 8.5x thanks to 7.4x more engagements last week.

Girls Are Growing the Game

An emerging theme from this year’s NCAA tournaments was the growth exhibited by top women’s programs. Data revealed by MVP’s social platform proves fans are increasingly paying attention to women’s basketball, especially at the highest level. Across its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels, South Carolina grew its followers by 12.81% – including a 20.83% increase on Instagram – over the 30 days ending April 5. Stanford’s women’s program was the only other Final Four participant to grow by at least 8%, as it finished with 9.36% more followers than it had when the month began. Across all platforms, women’s Final Four teams averaged 8% growth, while their counterparts on the men’s side managed only 4.91%.

Leaving Lasting Legacies

Only the Jayhawks and Gamecocks lifted NCAA trophies last weekend, but the memories and experiences each of the men’s and women’s Final Four teams created for themselves, their schools, and college basketball enthusiasts are what make the events so spectacular. They all created new fans and generated myriad social discussions during three weeks of hoops heaven, and each will forever be linked to one of sport’s most magical weekends. In the coming weeks, MVP will release a broadcast report from this year’s tournaments to provide additional insights regarding the participants’ reach and fans’ viewing habits.

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