Social media and spectator sports are a match made in heaven, what with all the stats to be cited, details to be debated, and trash to be talked in online forums. The San Francisco Giants are taking it a step further by creating an actual, physical space for social media, in the form of the new @Café (pronounced At Café), located behind the centerfield bleachers at AT&T Park, the team’s home stadium.
The café, which was launched in partnership with Peet’s Coffee and Tea, provides an immersive social media environment, complete with a 12 foot by 4 foot video wall that displays all the latest and top-trending Giants-related Tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts, polls and check-ins. Visitors can also watch the Giants’ social media team in action at the Giants Social Media Command Center. The video wall is flanked by two 50-inch screens showing batting practice as well as live game play; naturally there are also phone chargers to keep the Tweets and posts flowing. The café will also host special social media events (think Twitter chats with Giants players).
This actually isn’t the first dedicated social media den at a Major League Baseball venue. Back in 2011, creation of a new "social media suite" at Progressive Field, where the biggest social media users can congregate to watch games together from a privileged position. The suite, which replaced an earlier version, the Tribe Social Deck, and still appears to be in operation, is available by invitation only.
Meanwhile many college and pro sports teams are turning their whole venues into social media platforms by integrating fan-generated social media content into jumbotron displays as well as smaller screens and TV broadcasts.
There’s always room for marketers too: back in September Access Sports Media, a digital out-of-home network, unveiled social media advertising integrations through a new service called Access Sports Connect, which gives marketers the ability to feature their brands in the social and mobile marketing messages of professional sports teams nationwide, including franchises in the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, Minor League baseball, and NCAA basketball and football leagues. Examples of marketer-supported promotions enabled by Access Connect include photo sharing, flash ticket giveaways, player-of-the-game voting, and behind-the-scenes player access. These promotions can be coordinated with messages on Access Sports’ digital out-of-home network in sports venues, which includes 20,000 digital displays of varying sizes at 200 properties around the country.