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NCAA Readies for Texas Two-Step

Sweet 16 Teams Generate $3.84M in Post Value During Tournaments’ Second Week

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Social Media
March 31, 2023
March 31, 2023
 min read

March Madness is uniquely representative of a three-tiered event structure. Its opening weekend encompasses the entire gamut of emotion as the men’s and women’s tournaments stage 48 games apiece over the course of four days to whittle fields of 64 down to 16. The final weekend is an intense championship showcase with only four teams per event still in contention for a national title. But during the middle weekend, true contenders separate themselves from surprise Cinderella stories and even top squads that lack just one or two key pieces necessary to achieve Final Four glory. It is during this stage of the Big Dance that college basketball teams can best amplify their social marketing campaigns and reach larger national audiences as the pool of competitors dwindles, broadening the spotlight on those who remain. As a continuation of our March Madness coverage, we used MVP’s omnichannel platform to examine social performances from each of this year’s men’s and women’s Sweet 16 teams. Our men’s analysis featured content shared from March 21-27, while our women’s study spanned March 22-28 to include a week’s worth of posts for both data sets extending a full day beyond the Elite Eight’s conclusion for each. Ultimately, we found the teams’ owned social accounts generated $3.84M worth of total post value during the overlapping periods, and the women’s teams were most responsible for maintaining a consistent week-over-week value figure through the tournaments’ first two weeks. As such, our report highlights an emerging spotlight shift toward the women’s game.

Women’s Hoops Accounts Close Value Gap

While the 2023 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament has been littered with upsets, resulting in the second-highest seed total in Final Four history, the remaining women’s field comprises two No. 1 seeds along with a No. 2 and No. 3 seed. Perhaps as a result of more recognizable teams and Player of the Year candidates taking the court, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 field experienced a 53.6% week-over-week increase in value to $1.71M, suggesting a wealth of additional social value opportunities for women’s basketball programs as the tournaments progress. And while the men’s Sweet 16 participants generated $2.14M in total post value to edge their counterparts, that figure was a 10% decline from the opening weekend. MVP noticed a similar trend when examining the NCAA’s owned accounts for each sport. Its men’s basketball channels earned $1.52M in total post value for the week, representing a 35.4% decline after engagements fell week-over-week by 27.9% and impressions dipped by 35.9%. The governing body’s women’s accounts, however, increased their post value generation by 16.9% to $548.9K while also boosting engagements by 46.6%. With only 23.6% as many followers as the NCAA men’s basketball accounts, the women’s basketball channels amassed 36% of the men’s post value total. This revelation indicates brands and partners have prime opportunities to increase their social exposure and relevance by sponsoring women’s athletics next March.

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Iowa Women Top Final Four Social Rankings

Although a groundswell of support for women’s college basketball is becoming evident across the collective hoops landscape, it is undeniable among the sport’s elite teams. Using MVP’s social platform, we compared social metrics during the NCAA tournaments’ second weekend for each of the eight Final Four teams. Our data revealed Iowa’s women’s program was exceedingly the most popular among the bunch, generating $549.5K worth of total post value during the period – a figure that bested the LSU women’s social post value generation by 86% and topped post value figures from every men’s Final Four participant by at least 2.27x. With Women’s AP National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark leading Iowa to its first Final Four in three decades, the Hawkeyes earned 932.7K engagements and created 25.2 million impressions last week. Remarkably, their impressions total equaled 86.4% of the men’s Final Four teams’ collective impressions tally.

Rounding out the top half of post value generators among Final Four teams were the UConn Huskies men with $241.6K and the South Carolina Gamecock women with $237.5K during the period. With three of the top four teams in our Final Four post value rankings, the women’s collective total of $1.15M represented a 2.84x increase for the quartet and surpassed the men’s aggregate by 83.9%. Such data further affirms the assertion that women’s teams peaking during tournament play present ample opportunities to generate social value for themselves and their partners.

Men, Women Maintain Platform Differences

During the opening weekend of March Madness, MVP identified several online demographic differences between men’s and women’s college basketball. Notably, Facebook is a significantly more valuable platform for women’s basketball consumption than it is for men’s hoops. Conversely, men’s teams generate the lion’s share of their social value on Twitter. The second weekend of the NCAA tournaments further solidified these findings, as the women’s Sweet 16 teams generated 45.3% of their total post value on Facebook – an increase from 38.9% a week prior – and the men’s set of sixteen boosted its post value on Twitter from 46.3% to 53.5%. And while the women’s teams maintained their post value share on Twitter at just below 40% – a decline in post value percentage on Instagram led to the Facebook surge – men’s teams noticed their negative value shift on Facebook. Resultingly, the women’s teams’ post value share on Facebook was 96.2% higher than that of the men’s squads. This matters to women’s teams and NCAA partners because it can serve to inform how they position social content and branding as this year’s tournament draws to a close and potentially throughout seasons to come.

Two Wins From a Title

College basketball fans in the Lone Star State have the rare opportunity this weekend to dance a Texas two-step, as the women will play in Houston and the men are set to compete a few hours north along I-45 in Dallas. The storylines will vary – top seeds and multiple National Players of the Year taking the court in the Women’s Final Four as opposed to mid-major teams and resurging contenders in the men’s semifinals – but the outcome at the weekend’s end will be national champion from both foursomes. After the nets are cut, be on the lookout for conclusive broadcast and social insights from MVP detailing each tournament from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

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