Social Media Madness: Marketing Lessons from College Basketball’s Biggest Coaches

Social Media Madness: Marketing Lessons from College Basketball’s Biggest Coaches
By Eric Vidal


March Madness is here again—and that means from Chapel Hill to San Diego, college basketball fans are brushing up on bracketology and trying to figure out which schools will be dancing long into March (well, actually April).This year, however, there is a new debate raging on the college basketball scene that marketers will find interesting—social media is in the spotlight as some of the biggest names in college basketball have been weighing in on whether it should be allowed.

For some, like Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo of Michigan State, social media is toxic. “I think technology is a great thing in many instances,” Pitino said recently, “and I think it’s poison in others, and for people in sports especially.”  He bans his players from tweeting.

Not everyone agrees. Kentucky’s Jon Calipari believes social media can be a great tool for increasing fans’ visibility into college basketball life during March Madness and throughout the season.  “I’m not going to hold my team back from Twitter or Facebook,” he said, “but I’m going to teach them.”  He’s convinced social platforms can provide unique insight, establish loyalty and help build a greater fan base.

Lessons for Marketers

Social media appears to be a no-brainer for companies now, as 65 percent of marketers claimed to have increased social media marketing budgets in 2013. Ultimately it comes down to what you post on social media that really counts.

Social media, if used properly, can be one of the most effective marketing strategies for an individual or an organization. The sound strategy is to go forth and spread your message across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but to do it in a smart way.

Educate employees on proper protocol and establish guidelines as to what is acceptable to post. Make sure there is a clear understanding of brand image so that before an employee tweets or posts, they understand the implications of the messages that they are sending.

Calipari summed it up, “What we are trying to tell those kids [is], ‘Hey you build your brand or you break your brand down.’ For anyone to say [about social media] ‘Don’t do it…it’s crazy.’ I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The net-net:  Smart social marketing isn’t madness—it’s marketing that marches to the beat of your buyer.

Eric Vidal, Director of Product Marketing at InterCall, has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services.