Major League Baseball (MLB) is entering the last week of an exciting season that has attendance and local TV ratings up over last year in most cities. The resurgence of teams in key markets like New York, Chicago and Toronto has been very beneficial, as has the continued success of smaller market teams in Kansas City and Pittsburg.
Baseball has done an excellent job embracing digital; their website and mobile apps are successful and individual teams are quite good at social media. While many industries have struggled to find the right formula for Twitter, baseball has found much success. In fact, it has been analyzed by an academic study that looked into factors driving fan engagement. And there is a site, Wallaroomedia, that ranked all MLB teams on Twitter success. The top team is the Toronto Blue Jays, many pundits’ favorite to represent the American League in the World Series. Other successful Twitter teams include the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets.
I spent this summer deep in the world of Mets Twitter as the team won its first division title since 2006. As a fan who no longer lives near the city of my favorite team, Twitter is a way to feel like you are in the action and part of the communal fan experience. The cadence of baseball makes it perfect for Twitter and the real-time publishing experience. The games are daily, so the momentum builds and the season unfolds like a story, as do the games themselves. Fans can follow the progress of a game with Twitter providing the narrative.
A whole ecosystem builds around a team’s account from the writers who cover the team like Adam Rubin of ESPN (@adamrubinespn) who has over 75,000 followers. Adam’s tweets remind me of the old radio announcers keeping their fans up to date on the game’s progress. However, unlike a radio announcer he also engages with fans by answering their questions and responding to their comments. There are other fan sites and blogs with active accounts and strong followings. And, of course, fans get in on the action interacting with the team, beat writers, and other fans.
The Met’s official account is very well done in terms of content and engagement. Here are some best practices from their account that can apply to other businesses trying to figure out Twitter.
The Mets use multiple content formats very well — game pictures, quickly created infographics, short videos and vines, emojis and clever writing. It is real time marketing in action. I’m often amazed at how quickly they post content along with the action.
They have created a distinct voice and tone. It is fun, witty, enthusiastic and irreverent. It feels in line with the vibe of an exiting young team and the bravado of New York itself. The timeline bursts with energy. You can see the difference when you compare it to an account like the Red Sox. The content from the Red Sox is more matter of fact (actually a bit dry) and they don’t use as many different types of formats; it is text heavy. They also do a lot less tweeting during games, giving it a lower energy feel.
The Mets do a great job of mentioning the player’s Twitter handle in the tweets, which helps them build followers. Baseball has been behind the NFL and NBA promoting their stars and exciting young players. Baseball now has a trove of exciting young stars and social media is a perfect venue for engaging younger fans that don’t use traditional media.
Finally, the Mets did a nice job creating sub accounts for Citi Field for special events and customer service and my personal favorite Twitter account — for Mr. Met (https://twitter.com/MrMet), the team mascot.