March Madness sweeps blogosphere

March Madness is upon us, and odds are you have completed your tournament brackets, placed your bets and are tracking your picks via the Internet and TV as employers across the country brace themselves for drops in work productivity.

March Madness is upon us, and odds are you have completed your tournament brackets, placed your bets and are tracking your picks via the Internet and TV as employers across the country brace themselves for drops in work productivity. The blogosphere is buzzing with talk of the tournament, and the influential bloggers have been having a field day this year. We started looking at the influencer's take on March Madness before the tournament began, and have seen how dynamic the conversations really are as the tournament has progressed.

• Prior to March 20, the start of the tournament, the hottest topic among influential bloggers was focused on the hundreds of thousands of ways to fill out the tournament brackets. Influencers were not only offering their special strategies for making the right picks, but also talking about where you could join pools. Social networking site Facebook obtained quite a bit of influencer buzz for having over 20,000 groups related to this year's tournament, with CBS providing its own flavor to Facebook pools. This activity attracted the attention of the FBI, but related stories stayed within traditional media, and blogosphere influencers virtually ignored it.

• Lost worker productivity is also a hot topic around March Madness. Influencers have been discussing the various productivity studies that have popped up in recent weeks. One by Challenger, Gray and Christmas states over 35 million workers participate in office pools, with 1.5 million watching games live at their desks has gotten a lot of influencer attention. 86 percent of the influential posts say an even bigger problem than lost productivity is one that Challenger's study points to: the staggering drain of bandwidth that takes place in offices nationwide as workers watch the live games streaming on the Web at their desks.

• Early influencer buzz around the top four seeds was that none will win the final game. North Carolina ranked far ahead of the other #1 seeds in terms of influential conversation volume, generating 84 percent more posts than Kansas or Memphis, which logged the same number of posts and UCLA was far behind. In line with the conversation numbers, 57 percent of the influencers bet that North Carolina and Memphis will make the trip to San Antonio, and many picked Georgetown and Duke to join them. What's happened? Georgetown was knocked out in the second round and Duke showed some signs of wear and tear after squeaking past #15 Belmont. UCLA and Kansas have picked up some influencer buzz on the blogs in the last few days, but influencers still say at least one #1 will fall before the final four are known.

• Like any big competition, the influencers were mixed on this year's Cinderella story at the start. Over 60 percent said #10 seed Davidson would go far, especially since they opened the tournament in their home state. Influencers also point to their undefeated season, which was only matched by #1 seed Memphis, and felt they had a good chance to advance by beating once-Cinderella Gonzaga in the first round. The influencers were right, evidenced in their win over Georgetown. However, influencer buzz around Butler and Drake was unmet, and they missed long shots Villanova and Western Kentucky, both of which have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

Have we learned anything of value from the blogosphere around the NCAA tournament? It seems that much like the rest of us, the influential bloggers do not hold a crystal ball. They've done fairly well so far, but have misses just like most – if not all – of us. If anything, we've learned that we are truly not alone in our quest to submit the perfect bracket sheet to our pool administrator, and that it will be fun to keep cheering our favorite teams on to victory.

Based on the analysis of 3,672 blog postings from March 1-24, 2008. Evaluation and analysis by BuzzLogic.

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