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06/01/2013 by
743 views

Baseball & Social Media: A Home Run?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are considering launching a social media loyalty program for fans. Is Major League Baseball hitting a home run when it comes to social media?

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The LA Dodgers fans would receive points for retweeting, replying, and helping the Dodgers gain followers, in exchange for prizes like tickets and merchandise.

MLB has stepped up their game social media wise in 2012. They got organized, by providing social media outlets for every team, and interacting with fans as they go.

What is their main goal? MLB.com’s director of new media Andrew Patterson explains:

“Baseball is really a social conversation for us. There’s a game going on, but there’s a conversation happening too.”

And they are definitely putting this conversation to good use.

Statistics
According to research done by Banyan Branch, a social media agency, the most popular Major League teams present on social media are the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, two of the biggest East coast teams. The Yankees lead with over 6 million fans on Facebook, and 790,000 Twitter followers.

The Red Sox come in second with 3 million Facebook fans, and 340,000 Twitter followers. With over 27,000 tweets, however, the San Francisco Giants are most active on Twitter.

But what exactly is the league doing to interact with its fans?

MLB Fan Cave (2011/2012)
MLB chose a team of 9 fans, out of 10,000 applicants, to be inhabitants of the Fan Cave. The Fan Cave is “located at 4th Street and Broadway in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village” and “is a first-of-its-kind space mixing baseball with music, popular culture, media, interactive technology and art.”

The Fan Cave hosted “fan events, concerts, MBL player and celebrity appearances.” The team of 9 so-called Cave Dwellers were tasked with watching every single game of the 2012 MLB season, and talking/writing about their experiences through videos, blogs, and social media.

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MLB.tv (April, 2012)
During its #MLBTVme promotion (MLB.tv is an American subscription based audio and video service which through two different service tiers allows users to hear and watch HD quality Major League Baseball games live via a high-speed Internet connection) on the official Twitter account of MLB, a number of trivia questions were tweeted.

Fans could tweet the correct answer, and were automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win prizes. The kicker is, the more fans tweeted using the hashtag, and the longer the hashtag was trending, the more prizes MLB gave away.

Also in April, MLB created Pinterest and Tumblr pages for every team connected to the League, and assigned real time correspondents to all its 30 ballparks, to do live correspondence on social media outlets.

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Player Tweets (July, 2012)
MLB made social media history when they allowed players to live post to social media during the All-Star Game. Players were given the opportunity to sit down with laptops or phones after they’d left the game, and post updates on Twitter and Facebook, all with consent of their league.

MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan said:

“At the end of the day, the social media undertaking is about giving fans more access, giving them a deeper connection to what’s going on during the event.”

MLB Members Only (September, 2012)
In September, MLB started tweeting using the hashtag #MLBMembersOnly. No one knew what it was about, but MLB tweeted a warning, telling people to follow the MLB Twitter account while they still could. The tweet was retweeted more than a 1000 times.

A short period later, the MLB account was set to private for 6 hours. The news of MLB’s private account went viral. Fans who were already following MLB were rewarded for their loyalty: MLB was giving away everything, from tickets to team merchandise. Fans were able to be part of something that was exclusive to them, not to anyone in the world.

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Around this time, MLB also put their confidence into Instagram. MLB and every team in the League got their own official Instagram pages, posting behind-the-scenes footage and game shots, and Instagram got a place on the teams’ official websites. The MLB was the first professional sports league to have every single one of their teams on Instagram.

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Pictober (October, 2012)
Last October, MLB launched their first Instagram related effort. During baseball’s postseason, fans were encouraged to take photos of the ways they support their favorite teams, using Instagram. By adding a geolocation, and the hashtag of the name of your team, the photo was added to a map on MLB.com.

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My opinion
What does MLB do best on their social channels, you ask? I believe the answer to that question is fan engagement. They are willing to do anything for their fans, and reward them for their unlimited support.

They listen to the conversation fans are having, and actively play into what fans want and like. And that makes their efforts successful. I think every sports league should look at MLB as an example of what to do with their social media channels.

What About You?
What do you think of MLB’s social media activities? Or The Los Angeles Dodgers social CRM approach? I would love to read your opinion in the comments below.

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About the author
Marion aan ‘t Goor is a Social Media Consultant at Share Force One. You can connect with Marion via Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

 

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Comments (4)

  • Igor Beuker 06/01/2013, 18:08

    Wow what an insightful story, thanks for sharing. MLB seems to be doing great and I hope that LA Dodgers will be sticking to their social CRM approach, very clever!

     
  • Laurens Bianchi 07/01/2013, 14:17

    ‘A short period later, the MLB account was set to private for 6 hours. The news of MLB’s private account went viral. Fans who were already following MLB were rewarded for their loyalty: MLB was giving away everything, from tickets to team merchandise. Fans were able to be part of something that was exclusive to them, not to anyone in the world.’

    So smart and cool! Great article Marion!