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Four Great Content Plays March Madness Is Teaching Us

In terms of online buzz, college basketball tournament March Madness is rivaled only by the Super Bowl.  The March 10th Selection Show, for instance, had the Twitter world ablaze. For example, Drexel, a small university in Pennsylvania, was mentioned over 9,000 times in less than two hours – and they didn’t even get into the tournament.

The 68-team college basketball tournament started Thursday.  Watching it over the weekend got us thinking: how has this tournament become the month-long, mega-extravaganza it is today?  The answer, in many ways, is content strategy.  And we’ve found four lessons from the Big Dance that you can apply directly to your marketing.

1.       Make your headlines and subheads Elite – or Sweet.

Think of the tournament as a story.  March Madness is the headline.  Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four – those are subheads.  These terms are branded and part of the tournament’s identity and charm.  So when you’re writing a piece of content, remember: spend just as much time on the headline and subhead(s) as you do on the body. A potent headline can pay huge dividends.

2.       Create an expectation.

Every year, people gather around the TV for Selection Sunday, fill out (multiple) brackets and skip work to watch opening round upsets.  They don’t know why they do it – they just do.  It’s ritual. That’s the expectation you want to create with your content.  Make your content a ritual so people come back day after day, without even consciously knowing what they’re doing.  Don’t think you can’t do it? You can!

3.       Be interactive.

The beauty of March Madness is that the players aren’t the only ones who are competing.  People everywhere fill out brackets trying to predict who will win the tournament.  Anyone can do it, it’s fun and it gives people a vested interest in paying attention from beginning to end.  MSN says that 60% of people will fill out a bracket this year.   Just think of how many people you can reach if you make your content more interactive.

4.       Use multiple channels (literally).

If you have electricity, you can follow March Madness – that’s how accessible it is.  During the opening weekend, games aired on four different TV channels, were live-blogged on CBSSports.com, and were streamed online for people at work.  It’s incredibly inclusive and helps draw a bigger audience.  You can do it, too.  The next time you post a blog – or produce any content, for that matter – promote it on social, microsites, newsletters and more.  It’ll help you broaden your reach.

*For more content marketing tips, check out our guide of 15 Content Nuggets.


Image: ianmalcm (Creative Commons)

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