Trending 20: NCAA Tournament Special (Part 3)

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Every Tuesday, we partner with Conviva to release the Trending 20 Leaderboard showcasing the professional teams, leagues, and events that have generated the deepest engagement on social media of the past week.

For the 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournaments, we shifted that focus to highlight the college programs participating in the events.

NCAA Digital Series:
— Tuesday, March 23 — Men’s Field of 68
— Tuesday, March 30 — Women’s Field of 64
— Today (April 6) — Player Spotlight

After Selection Sunday and Monday, we compiled a dashboard in Conviva of 54 top men’s and women’s basketball players in the tournament who we expected to generate engagement on social media during the tournament. The goal was to analyze the engagement rates and follower increases in the event of a big moment like a buzzer-beater. However, the players were locked into the action with an average of only 10 posts (Twitter and Instagram combined) from March 15 to April 5.

Although the players didn’t post much on social media, they still generated a great deal of engagements.

One of the most viral social media moments of the men’s tournament came from Ohio State Forward E.J. Liddell following their shocking loss to 15-seeded Oral Roberts. Liddell posted this Tweet thread in response to death threats on Instagram. Liddell’s Twitter engagement rate from March 15 – April 5 was 342.94% due in large part to the support from Twitter users following him posting the thread about the death threats.

Paige Bueckers, the freshman phenom from UConn, was one of the players who was locked in and did not post at all on social media during the tournament. Bueckers is the most followed player out of the 54 players we tracked with over 844,000 followers across Twitter and Instagram. Her last post was an Instagram photo on March 9.

Iowa star Luka Garza garnered the highest engagement rate on Instagram in the timeframe we analyzed. Garza posted once – a series of three photos with a heartfelt caption thanking “teammates, coaches, and people I got to be around for the best 4 years of my life.” He generated a 97.12% engagement rate on this Instagram post alone with over 63,000 likes and 1,400 comments.

Click/Tap to enlarge post.

Gonzaga freshman Jalen Suggs hit the shot of the tournament on Saturday, April 3 to secure the victory against UCLA in the semifinal. In fact, the bank shot buzzer-beater from 40-feet out generated so much buzz that Suggs gained over 100,000 followers on Instagram alone from Friday, April 2 to Monday, April 5 without even posting a photo. Suggs’ last post on Instagram was a highlight video from February 23. The projected lottery pick is sure to see a significant uptick in engagement on his first post following the conclusion of the tournament, whenever that may be.

Top Twitter + Instagram Growth Rates of the last week of March Madness (March 29 – April 5):

  1. Aari McDonald: 199.94%
  2. Haley Jones: 29.80%
  3. Corey Kispert: 24.78%
  4. NaLyssa Smith: 21.73%
  5. Dana Evans: 18.55%
  6. Drew Timme: 18.50%
  7. Caitlin Clark: 12.81%
  8. Paige Bueckers: 12.11%
  9. MaCio Teague: 12.08%
  10. Charli Collier: 8.95%

Top Twitter + Instagram Engagement Rates of March Madness (March 15 – April 5):

  1. E.J. Liddell: 291.74%
  2. Caitlin Clark: 63.77%
  3. Trent Frazier: 57.92%
  4. Paul Scruggs: 52.16%
  5. Drew Timme: 51.44%