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What Role will Social Media play in March Madness?

Social media has become a staple in the PR professional’s tool kit; journalists, industry leaders, and influencers have become

very accessible. However, the myriad uses of social media goes well beyond public relations. According to a new study conducted by Harris Interactive, social media will be taken over by the ultimate holiday for college basketball fans: March Madness.

Yesterday was selection Sunday and the chosen ones have been given their spot in this year’s March Madness NCAA Tournament bracket.  Now for the next month sports fans will religiously follow their alma mater or their favorite team and the “underdog” team. It’s March, and anything can happen. What is certain is that sports fans everywhere will be following this tournament, and many of them will be using some form of social media to do so.

According to Harris Interactive almost one in four people who will be following the men’s NCAA tournament will be using some form of social media to do so. Fifty percent of these people will use a social networking site and of those people 27 percent of them will use a mobile application to do so. Thanks to social media, we can now create brackets with our friends, coworkers, and colleagues near and far without using a pen and paper or a fax machine.

However, despite the fact that we can make brackets online and bet on our favorite teams with people from all over, social media has been a “game changer” in other ways too. Companies have also jumped in on the popularity of the tournament and have launched their own competitor. If you’re a Chicago steak lover, then I suggest checking our Harry Caray’s bracket challenge. Guess all the winners correctly (nearly impossible), and you could win a free steak every week for the rest of your life. Even third party applications like UberSocial is hosting its own bracket challenge.

Last week I sat down to talk sports with ESPN contributor Matt Lindner, and he had great points to make on the subject. While social media allows us to recap every game with a play by play analysis and provides a platform for our bragging rights to be heard, it eliminates the excitement of the unknown underdog. Because of the accessibility of information, good teams no longer fly under the radar until it comes to tournament time. The “George Mason’s” of the tournament no longer exist and sports fans are way more informed on talent. Also, thanks to social media and March madness we are all savvy on the Brigham Young honor code.

Now we can all conduct social media due diligence in creating our brackets, upping the competition. Good luck to all the sports fans out there creating their brackets this week, and who knows, you could maybe even win a free steak for it.