Tweeting to Win: 3 March Madness Social Media Lessons
Business owners can learn a lot from the social media strategies of college basketball teams. / Credit: Basketball score image via Shutterstock

As March Madness 2014 draws to a close, basketball fans eagerly await the outcome of the upcoming Final Four and championship games. But people aren't just paying attention to the games themselves: The social media activities  — or lack thereof — among some favorite NCAA teams have also earned the spotlight this season.

Some coaches, like Michigan State University's Tom Izzo, have banned their players from posting to their social media accounts during the season. Others, like University of Kentucky's Jon Calipari, have embraced social media as a way to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at college basketball life. Small businesses face a similar choice when determining their policies about employee social media use.

"Izzo and Calipari stand at two opposite ends of the social media spectrum, just like many of today's small businesses," said Eric Vidal, director of product marketing at business communications service provider InterCall. "There's no right or wrong answer for how present a business or team should be on social media. Rather, it's about finding a happy medium that works for your company and its goals, something both of these teams have done."[6 Innovative Social Media Tools for Small Businesses]

Regardless of how active your brand is on social media, a cohesive strategy will help you make the most of your social marketing efforts. Based on his observations of NCAA social media strategies, Vidal shared three lessons that small business owners can take away from this basketball season:

  • Establish guidelines. Take the time to put guidelines in place about what is acceptable to post and what's not. From there, you can focus on training employees on proper social media protocol, so that they understand the implications of what they put out there before they share a tweet or post.
     
  • Be conversational and authentic. March Madness is full of emotion, and players and coaches aren't afraid to show this passion, either on the court or off it, via their social media accounts. This aspect of the game helps connect the players to their fans. Brands can learn from this: Being authentic and conversational about an event or issue allows brands to connect on a more personal level with their customers.

  • Educate your team about your messaging strategies. In basketball, if the whole team isn't on board with a play, it's not going to work. The same concept applies to businesses. Companies must get all employees on board with the organization's messaging strategy. Make sure they understand not only your social strategy, but also how it relates to your overarching business goals. This will help team members understand the reputation the company is trying to build, and how they can utilize social media to help build it. 

Originally published on Business News Daily.