Badgers season shows us all the power of sports and social media.

Spring isn’t just about daffodils and watching our lawns slowly turn green after a long winter of hibernation. It’s also the time when college basketball takes over the weekends and this year in Wisconsin, the Badgers took us all along on a great journey. Although it ended with a loss to Duke in the championship game, the highlights of this season will last a lifetime.

It’s been 74 years since the last time the Badgers had been to the big game, winning it all in 1941. This year’s version featured a veteran team led by senior star Frank Kaminsky, the player of the year in college basketball, helping the Badgers to a 36-4 record and the runner-up spot. Watching the story unfold this spring on TV was just part of the story. As social media has exploded in the last few years, the relationship between the games and the viewer is enriched by a multi-layered media experience where fans, media, and even the players can instantly share their reactions to the games.

On Facebook and Twitter, users deliver their own unique version of play-by-play, often reacting to members of the media who are also “covering” the game on social media. It’s a unique look into not only the significance of sporting events in our lives – after all what sports fan doesn’t live or die with every play from their home team – but it also builds a kind of digital community.

Seeing and reading reactions to the plays can often validate our own opinion, or inspire us to respond to others’ comments. This live give-and-take serves as an instant feedback mechanism. A national pizza chain rolls out a new commercial during the break, fans respond to it yeah or nay on Twitter. A referee makes a bad call, viewers pass instant judgment on it.

The use of new media and technologies isn’t confined to sports, but sports certainly illustrate the potential of social media to work quickly and effectively to respond to the audience or a customer. We’re all connected now, and understanding the role that social media plays in our lives can build outreach and connections for a business or a group beyond the traditional ones.

The Badgers story was a good one. It captured the classic tale of the underdog, and the determination of a group of young men to succeed at the highest level. Frank Kaminsky said it best in his own words on Twitter: “Never been more proud of a group in my entire life. What we achieved will never be taken away from us. Thank you for having me.” Well said, Frank.