This week a few years ago, I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon so that I could compete against my coworkers in the NCAA tournament. The bracket captures the essence of healthy competition that largely fuels the social networking site. Therefore it’s not surprising that this year CBS partnered with Facebook to develop a multifunction application. What is surprising is how good it is.
Here’s why I think the CBS March Madness Facebook application is a model use of Facebook.
- It’s a one stop shop across platforms: Unlike a lot of Facebook applications that are installed and forgotten about, CBS has built it to allow Facebookers to get all the information they need from the application. For example, each team, even those that aren’t in the tournament, has its own page that lists the scores of the games, schedule, player stats and links to team news off the site. You can also watch videos and monitor the live scoreboard.
- It’s scored the way we like it: You can earn more points for upsets and you can even win money if you do well. There is a $10,000 prize that will be given to a randomly selected person in the top 10% (who is also at least eighteen years old.)
- There are lots of ways to interact: CBS realizes that March Madness isn’t just about filling out a bracket and watching the games but rather a ritualistic event that spans many weeks. The application allows for creation of groups so you can compare standings amongst particular sets of friends and post on the “Trash Talk Wall.” As Greg Shaheen, senior vice-president for basketball and business strategies for the NCAA says, “more fans now have more ways to view, follow, debate and enjoy March Madness than ever before.”
- It is consistent with Facebook’s audience: The application plays into school spirit prevalent amongst the heaviest users of Facebook and encourages the taunting that is common sporting behavior through “TourneyPoke.” This application within an application allows you to send messages to friends like “ran Ali out of the gym” and “Ali called Paul a waterboy.”