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Social Showdown: The TRUE NCAA Social Bracket

After an intense opening weekend, the 2014 NCAA Tournament is finally down to its Sweet Sixteen! And in digital tradition, fans are all over social media talking trash and prematurely celebrating future victories.

But do you know which teams have the pro status off the court? While fans are doing their part, it’s also up to the teams themselves to keep their social media conversations alive. That’s why we’ve created the first ever SOCIAL BRACKET, with our picks for the most socially-savvy match-ups in the NCAA:


Florida vs. UCLA

UCLA has an unmatched basketball history and 15,000 Twitter followers, but its Twitter and Facebook accounts tend to lack for engaging (or frequent) posts. On the other hand, Florida is an up-and-comer that still has generated 1.3 million likes on its Facebook page alone.

Winner: Florida

Throwing out numbers alone, Florida does a better job of consistently using pictures, videos, and home-made graphics of the team to drive more frenzied fan-appreciation.


Dayton vs. Stanford

Both schools did an admirable job of actively tweeting during their exciting second-round games. So for this powerhouse match-up, we’re going to have to pick the seed by numbers.

Winner: Dayton

Stanford may have the prestigious status, but Dayton is clearly more skilled at connecting with their fans—they have almost twice as many Twitter followers to prove it.


UVA vs. Michigan State

“This one’s easy,” you think. “Michigan State is a MUCH more well-known basketball program.”  But despite their fan-centric basketball history, Michigan State’s social media marketing could use improvement. Their Facebook posts are often called out on being “too wordy and formal,” and a lot of their Tweets don’t contain a single hashtag.

Winner: UVA

Call it a Cinderella story, but all of UVA’s in-game Tweets contain #NCAAHoos, helping their fans stay in synch with the same UVA conversation. PLUS, their official website contains a social media Social Hub, to engage fans across Twitter, Vine, and Instagram.

va fb

Iowa State vs. Connecticut

Oh Connecticut. You guys are KNOWN primarily for basketball. And yet, with three NCAA championship wins and some of the most devoted fans in the country, UCONN still posts very little content on the Facebook page that it (wait for it…) shares with the school’s athletic department.

Winner: Iowa State

All it really took was for Iowa State to have its own Facebook page, creating a fan base that’s dedicated 100% to ISU basketball. Get it together, Connecticut.

isu tw

Arizona vs. San Diego State

Personally, we think SDSU’s Tweets would be more captivating if they used more pictures and less excessive capitalization (hasn’t anyone told them not to shout?!) But what’s worse is that Arizona basketball, despite its tradition, doesn’t even have a Facebook page—and only occasionally posts on their school-wide athletic department’s page.

Winner: SDSU

SDSU may win by default, but they also make good use of prizes and giveaways to excite fans from their Facebook page. Score SDSU.


Baylor vs. Wisconsin

Although Wisconsin maintains an active Twitter and Facebook presence, Baylor focuses on making their Facebook page the nerve-center for all team-related and fan-based info.  Baylor also regularly promotes the hashtags #SicEm and #SicMarch across Twitter, helping their brand to stand out from the rest.

Winner: Baylor

Within mere hours of their second-round win, Baylor has already posted video highlights and a photo-gallery of the game—proving that real-time content wins all.

baylor twitter

Kentucky vs. Louisville

Kentucky’s Twitter does a great job of live-Tweeting each game, and Louisville has one of the most vibrant Facebook communities we’ve seen. So who does the win go to?

Winner: Louisville

Kentucky’s live-Tweeting is usually full of one-dimensional ‘stat dumps’ that don’t engage users with much personality or #hashtags. On the other hand, Louisville’s fantastic Facebook page is chock-full of punchy posts and video embeds, in addition to live Q&A sessions that stir the Cardinals fan fever.  

lv fb


Tennessee vs. Michigan

Michigan has an incredible 103,000 Twitter followers. That’s significantly more than other schools who have had more success on the court. But still, Tennessee does a pretty darn good job on Twitter—particularly when it comes to actively Retweeting fans in their creative celebrations of team wins.

Winner: Michigan

We don’t like to play the social bracket on numbers alone, but Michigan’s huge following stems from their expertise at social media engagement. Proof: Michigan has by far and away one of the best team-wide campaigns, with their fervent use and promotion of #GoBlue.


So there you have it. We in no way are saying that the social stats have anything to do with who’s going to make it to the Elite Eight (although that would be awesome if we picked it). But what we are saying is that, even in 2014, there are still clear #1 Seeds and #16 Seeds when it comes to doing social media right.

For social media marketing experts and basketball lovers alike, all you have to do is follow the winning schools of the social bracket—and hitting the right trends at the exact right moments will be a cinch.


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