The Data-Driven March Madness Bracket.

We filled out our March Madness bracket using social media buzz--and we’re winning.
Caroline Henley
March 30, 2015 - 2 min. read

The Falcon Social NYC team is deep into our March Madness office pool. And I am the only one who has never followed college basketball.

This recent tweet from USA Today sums it up pretty well.

march madness social media

I also had a little help tracking the March Madness social media buzz from what’s becoming my favorite secret weapon: our Listening tool. (I told office pool man-in-charge Nick Larkey I was using it. He said as long as I had my bracket in before the games started, it was fine! Suckers.)

Foul-free bets 
To simplify our search, we listened in on the eight top ranked teams leading into March Madness: Duke University; Gonzaga University; Villanova University; University of Arizona; University of Kansas; University of Kentucky; University of Virginia; University of Wisconsin.

From there, I filled out my bracket based on the teams with the highest number of mentions from around the web.

march madness social media

Track every possible play 
We’re making it as thorough as possible by including the terms “madness,” “final four,” and “ncaa” alongside each team name, and acronyms for team names where it makes sense (like “UVA” in addition to “Virginia”).

march madness social media

Right now, the “NCAA” queries are the most popular, followed by “final four,” followed by “madness.” The “final four” queries will pick up this week, now that we are down to the last four competing teams.

march madness social media

Here is the current breakdown of the buzz, after almost two weeks of games:

University of Kentucky: 23.5% of the buzz 
Duke: 18.4% of the buzz 
Wisconsin: 15% of the buzz
University of Virginia: 10.6% of the buzz
University of Arizona: 10% of the buzz
Gonzaga: 9.3% of the buzz
University of Kansas: 7.2% of the buzz
Villanova: 6% of the buzz 

While most of the buzz has been pretty steady for the past weeks, UVA shot up the list last week. UVA climbed into second place for a brief period after being upset by Michigan State the first weekend. Here’s a look at some of the chatter about this “bitter disappointment” (which spiked on Twitter with 36% of Virginia’s mentions on March 21st, and has been steady in the News for the topic at 52%).

march madness social media

With Arizona and Villanova out of the picture, I’m a little worried about my bracket, but am safely assured in racking up points with my top two: Duke and Kentucky.

Slam dunk predictions 
We’ll keep you updated on the correlation between the teams’ social buzz and the outcomes on the court.

Of course buzz can’t be relied on to predict a sports game. But there is so much power in eavesdropping on one topic around the world, finding out which pockets are talking about the same team or player. It is really an awesome way to predict rising trends and looming powerhouses. And hey, we used it to successfully predict the Oscars.

Creating a social media strategy.
Learn how Sweetwater uses listening to create 1:1 relationships with customers.