5 Strong Postseason Plays From MLB

The MLB postseason is in full swing with all the drama, home runs and big plays you would hope for. To capitalize on the momentum of the postseason, MLB has come out in full force with strong content and digital initiatives. From stellar graphics to unique media partnerships, it’s worth taking note of their work. Below are five strong plays from MLB so far in this postseason.

 

1- Sharp look & feel.

It makes sense to approach the postseason / playoffs as a mini campaign. It gives creative a refresh, makes the moment feel bigger and helps rally fans around the moment. It’s a big stage, so elevate it.

As part of their postseason coverage, MLB rolled out a visual identity that is both retro and modern. Not only is the look sharp, but they have varied the content while still keeping things consistent. The result is an engaging and fresh look that stops fans in their feed – and immediately screams MLB.

The key takeaway is to create a look and feel that is own-able, but have enough elements where each piece of content still feels unique.

 

2- Graphics that engage.

Part of social is bringing your fans into the conversation. You don’t have to beg for retweets or comments to get fans to engage. Instead, think about how you can leverage design and creative to prompt fans to take action. MLB has created “who ya got” graphics that are a great example of this.

The one you’ve been waiting for … Who ya got in #NLDS Game 4: @Nationals or @Cubs?

A post shared by MLB ⚾ (@mlb) on

Decision time. Who ya got: @redsox or @astrosbaseball? #ALDS Game 1 starts NOW on @mlbnetwork.

A post shared by MLB ⚾ (@mlb) on

 

3- Unique media partnership.

The MLB has partnered with Bleacher Report for a content series called #TallTales. It’s a fantastic content series debunking certain MLB myths and legends. While they have only done one this postseason, I expect more to roll out.

There are a two big reasons I like this. First, working with an external partner can help push creative thinking and bring new ideas to the table. Second, it helps bring in a new audience. One can assume that the partnership with Bleacher Report is to attract a younger audience to MLB – and it’s a smart partner, for sure.

 

4- Video, created for social.

The traditional rules of video are out the window. Instead, the focus is on optimizing for mobile and capturing attention quickly (you have less than three seconds). The exact delivery, of course, is up to interpretation and some a/b test.

MLB has done a good job of creating video with social in mind. They prove that video content does not have to be elaborate to stand out. The majority of their videos are short and rely on text overlay – not sound – to get the message across. A few examples below:

What’s the #postseason got in store for this Hollywood story?

A post shared by MLB ⚾ (@mlb) on

The @yankees laugh at “rebuilding” years. #WildCard

A post shared by MLB ⚾ (@mlb) on

 

5- Strong sponsorship play.

MLB has partnered with Gatorade for a postseason content series called “Path to the Splash”. The video content showcases each team’s path to get to this point. The content is interesting and has a natural tie to the sponsor. Wins all the way around.

 
This post scratches the surface of the good work being done in the postseason, from both the league and teams. What has stood out to you so far?

3 Strong Plays From The Phillies

There was season in sports + social media where everything celebrated was snarky. It didn’t matter if it was the right voice for your team and brand. It was race for retweets. The snark revolution led to some unfortunate incidents, including a few that cost talented people their jobs.

But we’re starting to see a shift in the industry where teams get that their voice can come to life in many different ways. Yes, social media is meant to be more human. It’s meant to be fun. But you can break through the clutter and have fun, without jeopardizing the brand and what it stands for.

This year the Phillies have stepped up their social media game. They’ve found a groove, a brand voice and managed to have lots of fun without overstepping the line. They’re a great example of a team standing out from the clutter in a way that is still right for the brand.

If you need a little inspiration on how to breakthrough without the snark, the Phillies are a good place to start. Below are three strong plays that have helped them breakthrough already this season.

 

Embracing the power of community.

Community management is probably one of the most underrated aspects of social in sports. I understand that resources and manpower can be limited, but even setting aside five minutes a day to interact with fans can go a long way.

Here’s the thing. Social media is not just about pushing content. It’s about building a community and relationships. Simple gestures of appreciation for fans can go a long way in building lasting relationships. The Phillies gave us a great example of this when they surprised a fan and his daughter tickets to their Autism Awareness Night.

The gesture was noticed by fans, teams and the media, earning a ton of coverage for the Phillies.

Not only did they make a fans day, but they also helped to raise coverage of what their organization stands for (by giving back to fans and with their Autism Awareness Night). Win, win, win.

Why We Love Sports Today: Phillies surprise a fan and his daughter with tickets to Autism Awareness Night.

A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on

 

Combating tough times with a little humor.

There are certain things when you work in sport that aren’t fun to communicate A lot of times, you have no control over them. Take rain delays. No one wants to hear that a game is canceled, but let’s be honest, no one has control over the weather. A rain delay is what it is.

The Phillies decided to take some liberty during one of their rain delays and take a not-so-fun moment and spin it with a little light hearted humor.

Fans love the tweet. In the hard to please internet, people were even calling for the social media manager to have a raise. The message was relatable, humorous and delivered in the right moment. Not every situation can be spun with humor like this—but for a rain delay, it was a great way to break the ice.

Sometimes truth and humor can go a long way. As long as the subject isn’t something that is sensitive. Use your judgement and common sense wisely here.

 

Keeping it real.

In a similar vein to their weather delay play, the Phillies have also found a way to keep it real without overstepping their bounds on the snark.

Sometimes there’s beauty in the truth when delivered the right way. This bio change is a great example of how you can play with a bit of snark without overstepping what’s right for the brand. Bravo to the Phillies on finding that delicate balance.

 

All in all, the Phillies new take to social media is a great example of how teams can break out from the clutter and have some fun without hurting the brand. Social media should connect and engage fans. But, you have to be willing to test and push the boundaries in a way that doesn’t harm the brand. When you work on defining your voice and understand the moments where your willing to take risks, you can win… like the Phillies have.

5 Highlights + Lessons from The Start of MLB

The MLB season has kicked into gear, which means lots of games, excitement and #smsports inspiration! The start to the MLB season has not disappointed from a social perspective either. From the #CapsOn campaign to strong content creation, here are five highlights and lessons as the season kicks into gear:

 

1. Keep UGC Simple + Sweet

To celebrate baseball being back, the MLB launched a UGC campaigned called #CapsOn. On April 4, the MLB asked all fans to wear their caps for Opening Day.

MLB’s push around this was really strong. They had a Snapchat filter and a custom emoji on Twitter, teams pushed content out and partners participated. It worked as the hashtag trended on and off all day. There are two main reasons this UGC push worked.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.51.06 PM

 

 

 

First, the CTA was extremely simple. The hashtag alone explained the concept and the point of entry to join the conversation was low. After all, any good baseball fan has a favorite cap. We only have so much time to catch a consumer’s attention; if they have to take the time to figure out what the ask is, then they’re just going to move along.

Second, MLB was aggressive in their push. If you want to launch a successful UGC campaign, you have to have a strong integrated communication plan. Don’t rely on your own communication. Empower your advocates, think about channels where you can cross promote and come out swinging.

 

2. Show Thanks

Before Opening Day, Brewers players surprised fans randomly by leaving tickets and notes on their car. The Brewers did a few teases about this via social media, but left it extremely simple. Why? Because the Brewers didn’t have to do a strong campaign around all the good they were doing. They earned social play without having to ask for it.

When you focus on thanking your fans and making them feel special, they will share for you. You don’t have to beg, ask or tweet about it. All too often in social we focus on internal our own channels and/or making it all about the quick ROI. Take a step back and focus on your fans.

Building community and thanking fans does not build an army quickly, but one by one you’ll have a dedicated core group that will share and go to bat for you. Free tickets in this fashion are obviously a great way to go, but even something as simple as a genuine thankful reply can go a long way. Get back to thanking your fans!

 

3. Make It Consumable

All too often in sports we throw too much information at fans. Things move too quickly online to throw an entire stats book at our audience. Instead of information dumping, work on making content easy to consume. Here are two great examples from the Braves and Dodgers:

 

When you work in social media, it’s important to take a step back and understand the most important information you want the consumer to take away. You aren’t going to be able to cram everything in, so don’t even try it. Instead, focus on the storylines that matter and make your content consumable.

 

4. Provide Unique Perspectives

If you work in social media and sports, part of your job is to be the eyes and ears of your fans. Don’t just spit out information and stats. Instead, focus on bringing your fans closer to the game and team through content and storytelling.

The Rockies have been doing a great job of providing unique camera angles on their content that brings fans closer to the action. While simple in execution, it shows that access and unique perspective can go a long way.

 

5. Pre-Plan The Content You Can

And finally, I’ve talked about this a lot, but plan for the content you can. Although you can’t plan for all the outcomes in sports, you can anticipate. Create templates and pre-planned content that you can use at certain moments. It will help make your game coverage that much stronger. Below are some highlights of pre-planned content from GIFS to images from teams:

Braves are back in action at 7PM tonight at Turner Field!

A photo posted by Atlanta Braves (@braves) on

 


 

 

What stood out to you about the start of the MLB season? Share your thoughts below!

 

Thanks for reading. 

Q&A With The @Tigers Social Media Specialist

The Detroit Tigers are one of the great follows in the MLB. You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (@tigers).  Named one of the most contagious sports brand by Digitas this year, they constantly find a way to elevate their game. From fun rain-delay games to a  little humor, the Tigers get it. Their social media specialist, Mac Slavin, took the time to answer questions on their approach to social media. Below he tackles everything from lessons learned to trends in 2016. There are some great take away below. Enjoy!

 

Quick introduction. Can you tell us a little bit about your career path and your current role at the Detroit Tigers?

I definitely don’t have the “traditional” path to my current position and have had experience in a lot of areas of social media. One of my first jobs out of college was working for the Lancaster JetHawks (Single-A Affiliate of the Houston Astros) working in social, digital, marketing and public relations. After that I freelanced on the social sponsorship side, and worked with some major sponsors on their Super Bowl and March Madness strategy. When that freelance period was up, I moved to the league side and worked with the Professional Bull Riders (PBR – bulls, not beer). Spent two years wearing cowboy boots and hanging out with bulls, before moving to Detroit to work with the Tigers.

I’m currently the Digital & Social Media Specialist with the Detroit Tigers. I manage all of our social media channels, help with our paid social and digital advertising, and work with some of our mobile initiatives.

 

2. At the highest level, what’s the overall philosophy for the Tigers on social media?

Sharing moments. Sometimes those moments are home runs and great pitching, while other moments are of fans attending their first game. These moments are what keep fans engaged with our brand and (hopefully) coming back to the ballpark.

 

3. You’ve been with the Tigers for two seasons now. What have been your three biggest lessons learned?

Fan stories and UGC can make a world of difference: The Tigers were sellers at the trade deadline this year, and missed the postseason for the first time in four years. Fans weren’t too happy with the performance on the field, but at the end of the day, they were still fans. Sports teams have brand ambassadors that other companies would die for. We switched a portion of our strategy to stray away from highlights and focus on the fans in the stands (and watching at home). While we didn’t have as much content, we still had high engaging content.

Fans are visual: It’s not really a new lesson, but more of an affirmation. Photos and video can tell a story a million times better than a well crafted sentence. This goes for emojis as well. A lot of sports teams have seen this work for them, whether it’s a 💪 after a home run or 🔥 after a pitcher strikes out the side. It wouldn’t be tough to tweet something along the lines of “Justin Verlander is on fire,” but “Justin Verlander 🔥🔥🔥” performs WAY better (and if you add a GIF, it could easily be one of your top posts of the game).

Moments: Capturing moments at the ballpark can help create the most engaging content of the season. Whether it’s a family reunion at the ballpark or a kid meeting Miguel Cabrera during batting practice, it’s something fans can try to relate to. That relatable moment is something fans will want to engage with, and it can also help us indirectly sell some tickets.

 

4.The @tigers were named the most contagious sports brand on Twitter by DigitasLBi + Jonah Berger. What do you think has played a key role to your success on the platform?

I think one of the biggest reasons we were named “most contagious sports brand” is because of the moments we capture at the ballpark. People “like” seeing other Tigers fans because it reminds them of an experience they have had, or someone they know has had. The moments also lend themselves to tagging friends or family members in the comments or shares, which also helps extend our message.

 

5.- During a rain delay this season, you all did a “find the emoji” game on Snapchat. I loved this unique way to engage fans. Do you brainstorms ideas like this to use when opportunities arise or was this something that came about on the fly?

Find the emoji was actually a game a couple of friends and I had been playing the week before on our personal accounts. I thought it would be fun to bring to the Tigers, but didn’t have the right timing nailed down yet. It must have been a rainy week, because when rain hit teams had already done the standard hangman and tic tac toe, so I took a snap of the tarp on the field and added an emoji tractor.

We immediately saw fans screenshot the snap, and tweeting us their answers. The Rockies were in a rain delay and joined in, and it turned into a fun back and forth.

Can you also talk a bit about your approach to game day coverage?

During a game, Twitter is a lot like a television broadcast. We do a lot of play-by-play, but we also try to add a decent chunk of color commentary. Facebook and Instagram are there for bigger moments — big highlights or great fan moments, while Snapchat and Periscope are there for our pre-game stories.

 

6. Reflecting back on this past season, what moment, tweet, initiative, etc. are you most proud of and why?

I’m a sucker for a great story. These are the things that are most memorable, and even though we put most of our energy into great campaigns and initiatives, some of the best moments come from the fans.

Last year we found Mary at the ballpark with her sign that said “I’m 102 and I love my Tigers.” We took the photo and put it on Facebook and Twitter. The photo blew up and Mary instantly became a fan favorite. We found her again this year with a new sign.

This past season we held our first celebration of “Grandparents Day” at the ballpark, and a co-worker asked if I had any ideas for our first pitch. I immediately thought of Mary.

I’m not necessarily proud of this story because of the metrics, but because of the overall fan sentiment. Our fans recognized Mary. They have recognized her so much that we have wished her a Happy Birthday for the past two years. The fans love her, and Mary loves her Tigers. It’s one of those moments that are just great, because it reminds you what sports are all about, the fans. Mary also gives a lot of our fans (and myself) “#goals” to throw out a first pitch when we are 103.

 

 

7. There are a lot of games during a baseball season. How do you all mix it up and keep it fresh? Feel free to include examples.

It’s definitely easier said than done. Fans will always expect us to be tweeting out our play-by-play, however with GIFs, Vines and photos, it’s easy to keep some of the updates fresh.

One fun thing we did this year was the “Super Martinez Bros.” Vine. We would tweet this out sporadically when Victor Martinez or J.D. Martinez (no actual relation) would hit a home run.

 

8. Finally, what trends do you think we’ll see from your team or the industry in general in 2016?

I think you’ll see a lot more creativity with Vines and GIFs in 2016. A lot of clubs toyed with the two during 2015 and saw a lot of success, so I imagine there will be a lot of time and effort put into these two during 2016. We’ve already seen the NFL, NBA and NHL step up their game, and I only think the bar will keep rising.

I also think you’ll see a lot more fan engagement in 2016. The Cubs and Indians kill it on Twitter with engaging with their fans, and the two clubs have been able to identify some incredible brand ambassadors on social media (especially Twitter).

 


 

 

A big thanks to Mac Slavin of the Detroit Tigers for taking the time to answer questions. You can give him a follow here: @MacSlavin

The Missing Social Platform from MLB’s Home Run Derby

Guest Post by Adam Navarrete

Last night’s Home Run Derby was an action-packed event that featured new faces and a new bracketed format. But what was missing from the festivities was usage of one of the newest social media platforms. To be fair, it wasn’t until after the Home Run Derby was over that it dawned on me:

Of the seven teams represented (Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, Orioles, Rangers, & Reds), not one team used Periscope to broadcast a single at-bat from their Home Run Derby contestant, or any other content for that matter.

Taking a closer look, all seven teams (as well as Major League Baseball) have a Periscope account. And collectively, they have 128,805 followers standing by for what could have been unique access to the #HRDerby. Instead, out of the seven teams and the MLB:

    – Eight hadn’t updated their bios from what was pulled in from Twitter
    – Five hadn’t uploaded a profile pictures
    – Four hadn’t streamed for the first time
    – And all eight hadn’t streamed within 24 hours of the Home Run Derby

 

periscope

 

Up to this point in the season, both fans and teams have been streaming everything from games to press conferences to batting practices. So missing the opportunity to share behind-the-scenes content during the Home Run Derby seemed strange. And it wasn’t due to lack of interest.

A quick search on Twitter revealed fans were using Periscope to share the moment, with one of the better ones being Todd Frazier’s final at-bat that was shared from on the field by Juan Pablo Galavis, a former professional soccer and The Bachelor contestant.

 

juanpablo

 

The five and a half minute clip shows Juan Pablo sitting on the American League’s side of the field, talking to All-Stars and tracking Frazier’s home runs. And it is a perpetual heart-explosion the entire time while viewers commented things like: I’m loving this, that’s amazing and thanks for doing this!

Eight hours remain in the 24-hours time limit since Juan Pablo’s Periscope went live, and so far, it has had more than 6,887 replay views, 68 live views and generated 17,872 hearts. There’s no doubt the interest in the Home Run Derby was there. According to Topsy, there were over 243,000 #HRDerby tweets last night.

 

hrerby

 

Of course, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Vine were all utilized by teams during the evening, which makes Periscope’s absence even more conspicuous. Here are several unique scenarios that come to mind where teams could have used Periscope:

    – Inside the batting cage tunnels
    – On the sidelines with other players and their families
    – Post-round interviews with the contestant
    – Allowing fans to ask questions to the players
    – Players answering questions and saying “thank you” to fans
    – Interviewing the Home Run Derby winner

Social media is no longer perceived as a megaphone. It’s a means of engaging, conversing and rewarding fans. And, Periscope could have been an opportunity for teams to engage and reward fans through a unique point of view.

It would be interesting to know if the lack of Periscope usage during the Home Run Derby was a conscience decision to not use this new platform by individual teams and/or Major League Baseball. I’ll be paying closer attention to tonight’s All-Star Game to see if teams use Periscope or not. One thing is for sure though: Whatever reasons teams had for not using Periscope, it’s important for all of us in the industry to embrace – not fear – new technology that would enable us to provide fans with new and exciting access to their favorite players and teams.

 


 

This is a guest post by Adam Navarrete, co-founder & CMO at IdealSeat. Adam’s playing fields are digital media and sports marketing. Connect with him on Twitter at @AdamNavarrete.