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by Ben Zettler March 27, 2017

Going to the Final Four is one of the greatest privileges a university athletic program (and really a school a whole) can take on. Not only is it a chance to celebrate athletic achievement, but it's an opportunity for schools to be showcased to a wide, national, and even international audience. (Trust me, I'm more than aware of the money-making aspect, too, but we'll ignore that for now.)

Reaching the pinnacle of the college basketball world, outside of hoisting the trophy when the final buzzer sounds, is reason to celebrate. In the digital age, the North Carolina Tar Heels, Oregon Ducks, Gonzaga Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks each had opportunities to celebrate in their own unique ways. With the way that Instagram has evolved, with it being such a highly-visual platform and of the "Big 4" (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram), it has undergone the most changes in the past year. With that, it's worth noting the way these teams took to Instagram to do exactly that.

North Carolina

First, of course there's North Carolina, the five-time National Champion and now 20-time Final Four participant. They're basketball-specific team branded account not only showcased photographs of the moment, but also animated videos aligned with their in-season branding to initially celebrate being Final Four-bound: 

They also took advantage of Instagram's new multi-photo gallery feature to provide infographic-esque imagery with game stats: 

The Tar Heels are #FinalFour bound! Swipe ⬅ to see today's leaders in the win vs Kentucky! #GetIntoIt 🐏🏀

A post shared by UNC Basketball (@unc_basketball) on

Oregon Ducks

The least active team-specific Instagram account comes from the North Carolina's Saturday opponent, the Oregon Ducks, a.k.a. Nike U.

While content has been limited, the basketball team account did take advantage of what has become a highly-utilized tactic on the platform: using quote content. Blended with the school's colors, this quote from their Star, Tyler Dorsey, is on-brand: 

World, welcome to West Coast hoops. Always us. #GoDucks

A post shared by Oregon Men's Basketball (@oregonmbb) on  

The Gatorade bath of Head Coach Dana Altman was key, as well:

This. Always us. #GoDucks

A post shared by Oregon Men's Basketball (@oregonmbb) on  

Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Gonzaga Bulldogs got over the hump and Mark Few is finally in the Final Four. Sometimes this is all you need- a video of the post-game locker room celebration with the team. After all, the power of social media content for a sports team is giving a fan access to something that would have been previously impossible to access.

This video has no frills. No music, one camera. It does the job: 

‪Ooh uh oh uh oh ooh we go to the #FinalFour

A post shared by Gonzaga Men's Basketball (@zagmbb) on

Here's a branded photo showcasing the final score. One note, and I could make the same comment for North Carolina's video post above: I still don't know why teams, schools and brands will post wide-form content for a platform that allows you to now post vertical content. The question I always ask myself when I see it is, "Why use less space than what Instagram provides? Why sacrifice the screen-space that Instagram offers?" 

Final. #FinalFour that is. #unitedwezag

A post shared by Gonzaga Men's Basketball (@zagmbb) on

South Carolina Gamecocks

Celebration shots with the team, gallery posts, looks inside the locker room...South Carolina's staff had everything going as the most active team on Instagram celebrating their Final Four clincher. 

There was perhaps nothing better than their edited video piece showcasing the team's near-midnight Columbia return to throngs of cheering Gamecocks fans. Bravo:

Gamecock fans are absolutely incredible. Just ... watch this. #ForeverToThee

A post shared by GamecockMBB (@gamecockmbb) on

Which team did you think executed their social strategy best this past weekend? What about all of the teams in this year's NCAA tournament?

Ben Zettler
Ben Zettler

Ben Zettler is an experienced social media expert and entrepreneur specializing in brand growth. He oversees social strategy for Steiner Sports, the leading producer of authentic hand-signed collectibles, and is the owner and founder of Brooktide Sunglasses, in addition to providing digital media consulting services to brands and public figures as a Shopify Expert. Ben is a 2012 graduate of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland - College Park, where he continues to serve as the President of the Home Run Club, the fundraising arm for the 2x NCAA Regional champion Maryland Terrapins baseball team.


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