How the MLB & Teams Generated Excitement for #OpeningDay

Opening Day. It’s a holiday for baseball fans: One that brings excitement, anticipation and the hope of spring and warmer weather. It’s also a day to celebrate in social media + sports as 30 MLB teams and the league turn out great social/digital content.

Days like Opening Day– the first game of the season, a rival matchup, a championship game– deserve a little more TLC. Why? They deserve more thought because emotions are high. And when emotions are high, it’s an opportunity to connect with fans. Fans are more likely to share content when it tugs at their emotions. The reach from retweets, shares, etc. will draw more fans in. Yes, it’s important to take the time to think through a robust strategy on how to approach these big moments.

A quick glance through the Opening Day content and it was easy to see that the MLB and teams spent time planning socially. Here’s a look at some of the ways the teams and league generated excitement:


No. 1- Launch of THIS.

MLB launched a creative campaign called “This is Baseball”. Focused on the word THIS, it’s an ode to the great things in baseball that need no explanation (exactly how THIS is used in social media). The campaign’s strengths lie in its simplicity and ability to integrate across teams. THIS campaign is relatable to every fan, no matter which team they root for.

“This is Baseball” will run all baseball season, from TV sports to real-time social content. If the start of it is any sign, THIS will be a home run hit. The social content has been stellar so far. It taps into the emotion of the sport/teams and drums up the appropriate excitement. Here’s a look at some of the posts:

View this post on Instagram

Expect more of #THIS.

A post shared by Los Angeles Dodgers (@dodgers) on


View this post on Instagram

Because we're all Phanatics. #THIS

A post shared by phillies (@phillies) on


Lesson: Leading up to a big event or game, go beyond a countdown and highlight why people get excited about it. Tapping into emotion will make the content more impactful.


No. 2- Countdowns.

Countdowns are an easy and simple way to drum up excitement leading up to a big event. And of course, plenty of MLB teams counted down the days until the first pitch. Here’s a look at some of the countdown themes from various teams:



View this post on Instagram

One more sleep! #ComeTogether

A post shared by Toronto Blue Jays (@bluejays) on



Instead of graphics, the Kansas City Royals did countdown videos. Clever!


Lesson: Countdowns can be impactful, but don’t start them out too early or they get redundant. It’s often best to highlight “big dates out”—like 100, 50 and 25—and then countdown 10 to seven days out. In addition, focus on the copy and mix it up. While the days out might be predictable, the words don’t have to be.


No. 3- Celebration GIFS/Vines.

MLB teams took advantage of the GIF trend to showcase their feelings about Opening Day. The content was a fun avenue to showcase excitement in a light-hearted way and resonate with fans. Below are a few examples of the Opening Day celebration GIFs:

Lesson: GIFS are a great opportunity to showcase your team’s humor and personality. Additionally, they stand out more on Twitter and aren’t as intensive to create as video content. The biggest lesson here is that you don’t have to rely on pop culture GIFS from; take old video footage and splice and dice it for some on-brand GIF fun!


No. 4- Snapchat geofilers

The start of the season is always a great time to bring out something new. MLB teams brought out Snapchat geofilters for Opening Day (see a list of the teams on Snapchat here). Geofilters are a smart and easy way to engage fans and enlist ambassadors by helping them spread brand love for your team. The creativity behind some of the filters were outstanding, and several teams did a good job promoting them across platforms. Here’s a look at some of the filters:

Lesson: Geofilters are a fun and easy way to engage fans. And, some of the creativity of the overlays (like from the Phillies and Diamondbacks) makes the feature even more powerful. The key with this is to promote, promote, promote so fans know that they are available.


No. 5- Simple statements.

It’s easy to overthink when you write. In reality though, simple is often best. Many teams tapped into the emotion of Opening Day with strong images and short and simple copy. As you’ll see below, the combination makes a great statement:

View this post on Instagram

Today. #OpeningDay

A post shared by phillies (@phillies) on


Lesson: Short and sweet is often best, so don’t be afraid to cut and edit. As Strunk and White would say, “omit needless words”. In this fast-paced world, even 140 characters is often too long.


No. 6- Player’s voice.

The Diamondbacks found content from voices on their own roster, turning tweets and quotes into graphics. This is a great way to showcase the players’ excitement for Opening Day:

Lesson: There are so many ways to create content. Look around you. Figure out how you can leverage the tweets, photos and pieces of content that are generated from other sources and turn them into your own.


No. 7- Excuse notes.

The Brewers released Opening Day excuse notes for fans that were written by players. While other teams and leagues have done excuse notes before, the use of different players and excuse notes based on occupation is stellar. View all the notes here.

Lesson: Sometimes the best ideas are evolved ideas. If you see something you like from a brand, team, league, etc., think about how you make it work for your fans and goals. There is always a way to take an idea up a notch and make it your own.


No. 8- #FirstPitch15.

The MLB created a series of #FirstPitch15 graphics with a unique phrase for each team. The idea was that everyone starts out undefeated. The hashtag use is a great way to drum up excitement for Opening Day, and the graphics were sharp:

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.48.39 AM

Lesson: When planning for a big event/game like Opening Day, try to find a unique rallying point like #FirstPitch15. Too often teams fall back on generic name hashtags instead of picking something unique to rally and excite fans. A strong hashtag campaign, paired with great graphics and content, can really get fans engaged.


No. 9- Scavenger hunt.

The Indians hosted a scavenger hunt around the city, hiding bags for fans to find with clues tweeted out. This is a great example of bridging the online world with the offline world:

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 10.12.09 AM

Lesson: Bridging the gap between social and the physical world can make for a fun promotion. If you are looking for new ways to engage your fans, consider a contest/activation that involves both social and in-person engagement. The combination helps develop a stronger relationship with fans, spreads the word online and rewards ambassadors! A win, win, win.


As the Opening Day social media initiatives show, planning helps make a splash. You can’t always plan, but when you can, take advantage of it like the MLB and teams did.




What were your favorite social moments from Opening Day? Share them below!


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