It's social media, babyyyyyyy / by Samantha Hughey

Conference play has ended, and the teams have been selected - the 2014 NCAA tournament is hours away from beginning and while the players and the coaches are strategizing fans are taking to their smart phones. Whether it's filling out brackets or sizing up their team's opponents social media has continued to prove to be a vital resource for fans. But in a digital world were content is king and snackable content is being demanded at a faster rate - how are teams beating their competition on the virtual court?

It seems that last year's article done by Mashable was taken seriously by those schools who didn't  have a strong social media presence. A few of the key players, both in the sports world and the social media world, offer their insights on who should be crowned this year's Social Media Champion.

University of Louisville's Nick Stover (@ULFlyingCard) and myself looked at how teams were in fact measuring up - if their social media game could back up what was happening on the court. Looking at the three most used platforms, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the Elite 8 came down to who had the most followers and who was being the most active, appealing to their fan base. From there the race got a little heated and relying on the use of unique hashtags the Final Four came down to UCLAMemphisWisconsin and, last year's National ChampionLouisville - these were the schools that were creating content that was outside of the box, hashtags were consistent among all platforms - some were even using other avenues to promote their school (VIne, Google+ and YouTube). Though it ultimately came down to the two schools who were sharing behind the scenes exclusive photos and videos - UCLA and Louisville.

UCLA ultimately would take the crown as the Social Media Champ based upon the amount of fans that they were reaching and engaging with, amongst the innovative tactics that were set in place.

While others, such as HootSuite, focused purely on the followers that they had on Twitter based upon those who were enrolled in the university. Though they also incorporated key players, mascots, and coaches who had an active presence on the platform as well. The Final Four for schools with a mass Twitter following included: @KUHoops@MSU_Basketball@KentuckyMBB and @BlueJayMBB. The champion being @BlueJayMBB (Creighton University), with their following doubling the school's enrollment.

The road to the finals in now underway; games being live streamed and live tweeted non stop, with the championship game being played April 7 - until then it's nonstop madness.