It’s become clear to me that America’s traditional pastime—baseball—and now our most popular pastime—social networking—have two foundations in common: stats and images. Baseball, of course, is a game of statistics. Without them, the sport would carry far less meaning and would largely lose its historical context. And when we think of baseball, we conjure images—The Shot Heard ‘round the World, Jackie Robinson stealing home, the catcher leaping on the pitcher who has thrown the last strike in the World Series and the video replay of the home run that barely scooted inside the foul pole.
Similarly, as we engage with social media, we are constantly focused on stats surrounding the number of friends and followers we’ve accumulated, how many retweets our update generated, the number of views our video has accumulated and rankings of everything imaginable. At the same time, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and other social sites have become the principal way we share photos and videos equally with family, friends and social strangers.
Socially savvy teams
Now, baseball and social networking are combining their fans’ love of stats and images in the form of social sports. A recent infographic developed by Silverpop, a digital marketing firm, illustrates this phenomenon, declaring the Yankees to be Major League Baseball’s most social team, with just under eight million fans across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Overall, it turns out the American League leads the National League in social followers 23.7 million to 19.9 million.
Measured another way, according to ticket broker TicketCity, it’s the San Francisco Giants that have the MLB’s largest fan base, determined by an algorithm that takes into account home-game attendance, median ticket price, ticket demand and social media following.
Connecting off the field
The MLB is embracing social media in more ways than setting up Facebook pages, however. For example, the Detroit Tigers offer a Social Media Clubhouse on the team’s site, listing each player’s handle and social media exclusive photos and more. In addition, the team has a history of participating in Social Media Day each June, offering the chance to connect with virtual fans offline.
All of this new social activity around baseball gives you a chance to step to the plate online with a new social stance. If you’re a fan of both baseball and Facebook, I think you deserve to feed your appetite for both pastimes with some techniques like these:
- Categorize your Facebook friends who share your passion for pitchers and put-outs into a separate list. Then you can share updates about your favorite team with social friends who actually care without overwhelming the others who don’t know a hit from a mitt.
- Resurrect the joy you felt as a youngster with a cigar-box full of baseball cards by engaging with fellow fans over the new electronic Vine cards, as well as Pinterest boards that display a century’s worth of valuable cards.
- Use the new tagging feature in Instagram to share photos of your favorite players and ballparks. You can label each person and location in your Instagram photos, perhaps preparing them to serve as the baseball cards of the future.
- Arrange to attend tweet-ups and other social media events sponsored by your local team. Not only will you meet many of your fellow online fans but you may also have the chance to establish a Twitterverse relationship with some of your favorite players, adding a new dimension to your enjoyment of the game.
- Discuss games socially using hashtags reflecting the team name or even a particular play in the game (#BadCallAtThird). When the opinions start flying out of the park, you can catch them all on a dashboard with MyLife, which aggregates posts from your social networks onto a single screen. You can manage all the comments coming over the fence from Facebook, Twitter and more and then respond without dropping an opportunity to score with your own insightful point.
So dig in and take a swing at social baseball. You may quickly earn your standing as a social all-star.
For social media insights, check out the MyLife blog: http://www.mylife.com/blog/