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Wisconsin rivalry spills into social media
(Updated Dec. 10, 2012)

By Marissa Evans, Comm ’13

Marquette's 2011 win against the University of Wisconsin–Madison meant Bucky's avatar was blue and gold for a day.

It’s a storied rivalry — epitomized in a photo of coach Al McGuire standing on a table, hands raised in the air, and a Madison fan’s hand raised in an obscene gesture. (We can’t post it here, but you get the picture.)

For years, Marquette and the University of Wisconsin–Madison have brought the heat to the basketball court for their highly anticipated annual matchup.

On December 8, 2012, Marquette secured bragging rights for the state once again, and a celebration that included dancing to the signature Badger song "Jump Around" became the most favorited tweet in Marquette history. 

The schools’ social media managers leverage the buzz around the annual match-up by creating some friendly competition — beginning the week prior to the game.

“One of the great things about both of our accounts is we really believe in this idea of an engaged approach to your fans and followers,” says John Lucas, director of new media and internal communications at UW–Madison. “We talk to people and try to answer their question and have fun.”

“It’s a fun rivalry that riles up our followers,” says Tim Cigelske, Marquette's director of social media. “And we never pass up an opportunity to beat Bucky.”

The social media rivalry kicked off in December 2010 with a follower contest and in 2011 with a social media avatar challenge. The stakes? The losing school had to change its logo to the winner’s school colors. Marquette fans delighted last year when Wisconsin had to change its logo to blue and gold.

Then, in March,, a site that measures social media influence, pitted universities nationwide against each other in social media showdowns. Just like that, the Marquette-UW–Madison rivalry was amped up. Again.

Marquette had to beat the University of Michigan, Harvard and the University of Texas in its matchups, and UW–Madison had to beat Indiana University and Syracuse University.

After several secretly exchanged direct messages on Twitter, the #SconniePact — also sometimes called #CheeseAlliance — was born. In other words, the University of Wisconsin and Marquette encouraged their social media followers to vote for each other in earlier rounds to ensure an all-Wisconsin showdown in the finals.

In the final round, the #SconniePact was dissolved and the Badgers’ larger student and alumni base helped defeat the Golden Eagles.

Despite the basketball beef, the social media rivalry is lighthearted.

“(Marquette) is obviously in Milwaukee and is a little bit smaller, and (UW–Madison) is a little bit bigger and research-focused and football-focused,” Lucas says. “It seemed like a cool way to tie them back together a little bit and not only have some fun and get people going back and forth but also put focus on the game and the schools.”


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