Survey: Why Facebook, Twitter, Mobile Apps Will Score Big During March Madness

March 8, 2011: The 2011 NCAA Men's Division I basketball tournament will be coming to tens of millions of people beginning next week via a first-year alliance between CBS and Time Warner's Turner Sports division, which will combine to air games on four networks.

However, even with hoops available on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, a significant number of people will either use as their main source or as an important added source of information such venues as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and mobile applications.

According to a new survey from IMRE Sports, 23% of those polled said they would be using some form of social media to follow this year's men's NCAA tournament. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the Baltimore-based marketing and research firm, showed that among the 23% who would be using social media, 31% would be using YouTube and 27% would utilize a mobile application.

Among the top reasons for using these venues: 62% said they would use social media channels specifically to check the scores, 44% would use them to watch the games, 44% would use them to follow their favorite team/college, 40% would use them to follow their own bracket/other gaming purposes and 19% would utilize social media channels to follow their favorite player/coach.

The survey is in line with a recent poll conducted by research firm Burst Media, Burlington, Mass., which showed that more than 25% of self-described avid sports fans use the Internet as their primary source for scores and sports information and that an equal percentage have or currently follow their favorite athletes via such venues as Facebook and Twitter.

According to the IMRE Sports survey, the popularity of social media channels among men's college basketball fans extends year round. More than two in five of those surveyed (42%) follow men's college basketball throughout the year. Of the 42%, the study showed that 44% use social media tools to interact with the sport; that Facebook is the most popular way to follow/interact with the sport (25%), followed by Twitter (13%), blogs (13%) and 11% interact via online forums; that Facebook pages (18%) and Twitter accounts (10%) hosted by sports or news networks are the most popular; and that 13% follow/interact with a team/college Facebook page and 7% follow/interact with a player/coach Facebook page.

The research shows that men will be more likely than women to use social media to follow March Madness, by a margin of 3 to 1 (32% men vs. 14% women). The study also revealed that those with higher household incomes ($75K+) and college graduates are more likely to be planning to use mobile applications and Twitter.

"There are more opportunities for brands to share their messages with the very targeted demographic that lies within sports fans."

"As more fans continue to engage in social media channels to view sports and follow their favorite teams and players, there are more opportunities for brands to share their messages with the very targeted demographic that lies within sports fans," Kelly Nowlan, research director at IMRE Sports, said in a statement.

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of IMRE Sports from February 24 to 28, 2011 among 2,366 adults ages 18 and older.

The NCAA tournament begins March 15 with the newly formatted "First Four" and runs through the Final Four, April 2-4.

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