Ranking the Top NCAA Tournament Sponsors on Social

Published on Apr 7th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

Villanova was crowned the 2016 NCAA Tournament champion on the court after defeating North Carolina on a three pointer at the buzzer Monday night. But what about the social media brand champion?

Shareablee examined the most-engaged branded NCAA sponsor posts related to the tournament to identify the social best practices that generated the most actions (likes, comments, shares and retweets) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And the winner is... Reese’s. The candy brand generated nearly 375,000 actions from March 1 through April 5, the day after March Madness ended. It was also the most engaged NCAA Tournament sponsor on Facebook, where it generated 95% of its engagement.

Reese’s also posted the most-engaged post related to the tournament.



That post was Reese’s most engaged of 2016 and accounts for nearly one-quarter of its total actions so far this year. It was also the most-engaged tweet among NCAA Tournament sponsors.

Reese’s increased its engagement 416% compared with the 2015 NCAA tournament. It used the hashtag #MarchMood in posts that generated 73% of its total engagement on Facebook and Twitter.

More Top Content from Sponsors

Buick posted the next most-engaged Facebook post among NCAA Tournament sponsors. It used the hashtag #FinalFour to compare its car models to a basketball team’s starting lineup. It was also the most-engaged Instagram post related to the tournament. Buick posted six of the 10 most engaged Instagram posts among sponsors, including the top 4.

Buffalo Wild Wings also generated most of its engagement (80%) on Facebook. Its posts related to the NCAA Tournament featured digital postcards that its audience could use to alert friends and family that they would be taking a “sports-cation” to watch the games.

While Reese’s did post the most-engaged tweet, Capital One published six tweets in the Top 10 among tournament sponsors. Of those, five used the #FinalFour hashtag, including its most engaged that featured the stars of its TV commercials.



From March 1 to April 5, Capital One used the #FinalFour hashtag in 17% of posts, which generated 28% of its total Twitter engagement. Those tweets also generated 64% more engagement than the average Capital One tweet during that time.

Using Brackets to Generate Engagement

A number of non-NCAA sponsors generated significant engagement on social by using themes related to the tournament. The most popular was the bracket.

But instead of referencing some of the 68 teams that vied for the NCAA Championship, brands pit their own products against one another. The posts included calls to action that asked audiences to like, comment, share or retweet to indicate their preferences.

DeKuyper Cocktails , Sauza Tequila , Kraft , Butterball , Sutter Home Wines , Blue Moon , Walt Disney World , Amazon , JC Penny , Shasta , Heinz and Harley Davidson posted some of the most-engaged Facebook content related to brackets.

The bracket strategy led to some brands’ most-engaged content of the year.

For example, seven of Papa Murphy’s 10 most-engaged Facebook posts in March and through the tournament featured its #Team425 Take ‘n’ Bake Bracket Sweepstakes, including its top six.



Those posts accounted for just 12% of Papa Murphy’s Facebook content year to date, but generated 62% of its total engagement. Its #Team425 posts, which were co-branded with Pepsi, also generated 423% more engagement than the average Papa Murphy’s post so far this year helping to illustrate the campaign’s success.

Want to learn how to create the type of content that your audiences engages with and amplifies on behalf of your brand? Tune in to What Makes Content Shareable, our next webinar April 26 at 3 p.m. EST.

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