Ah, baseball. America’s past time. The game has been around, and flourished, for a long, long time. In recent years (since the mid 90’s), baseball has hit a rough patch, with the Steroids Era. However, baseball is trying to change its image, and social media is part of that effort. Social media makes sense for a game that is inherently social for its audience. Going to the ballpark is as much about the hot dogs, peanuts, beer, and conversation with friends, as it is about the action on the field. Let’s see how the MLB does in my final edition of “Social Media Report Card.”
As expected, the MLB is taking advantage of the Internet’s two biggest social media platforms, and has just about 750,000 followers on Twitter and 45,000 fans on Facebook. The league has also integrated Twitter chat into its MLB.tv streams. Even Minor League Baseball has an account on Twitter, with several hundred followers. However, the MLB does not have an account on YouTube and they are aggressive about removing any of their content that is posted by fans. The MLB has also failed to utilize emerging platforms (e.g. DailyBooth, Ustream). So far, none of the four leagues have taken advantage of those platforms. The first to do so will not regret it.
The MLB posts content to Facebook and Twitter on a consistent basis. They do a decent job of mixing up their content with articles, videos, and promotions. My biggest issue with the MLB is that they are very, very protective of their video content. The NBA has an unbelievable YouTube channel, with over 13 million channel views and 170,000 subscribers. If Major League Baseball were more open with their content, they could see similar results.
Fan Interaction: C
Major League Baseball does engage with its fans to some extent, specifically on Twitter. The league tends to interact with several followers each day, most commonly retweeting people who mention the MLB in a favorable manner. Even though they interact more than the NBA or the NFL, the MLB has a lot more work to do on both Facebook and Twitter if they want to engage with a high percentage of their fans.
Player Involvement: C-
I have been judging this category based on two things: the involvement of each league’s superstars and the number of each league’s athletes engaging in social media. As far as the MLB’s biggest names and best players, very few of them are active. For example, of the two Cy Youngs (Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke) and the two MVPs (Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer) this year, none are on Twitter. Nick Swisher, of the New York Yankees, is the most popular MLB player on Twitter, with over one million followers. Imagine what a more talented player and a bigger name could do. On its website, the MLB lists 28 players with confirmed Twitter accounts. That’s just three more players than are on one team’s active roster.
The MLB has a lot of work to do as far as social media goes. The league needs to open up their stance on content, take advantage of YouTube, and begin to utilize emerging platforms. Also, they need to encourage more of their players to get involved. To have Nick Swisher as your best Twitter user signals a need for improvement, and to have only 27 other verified MLBers on Twitter is too low.
My point is, and has been throughout this series, that if the leagues are going to use social media, they need to get more involved as a whole. I understand that large organizations move slowly and the leagues are doing a lot of good things. However, I make a point of being critical because I know how much each of the leagues can do with more effort and a more open, forward-thinking attitude.
Last month, I set out to write “Social Media Report Cards” for each of the four major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I have had requests to continue the series with other leagues (something to look for in the future). Thanks for your support with these articles!