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Stephen Strasburg’s Social Media Potential

If you don’t know about Stephen Strasburg, let me introduce you. Strasburg is a starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals. He was the number one pick in the MLB Draft last year and made his major league debut earlier this week: 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs… and 14 strikeouts! Quite the impressive entry into Major League Baseball. Strasburg is a budding superstar. He’s been talked about for the last several years in baseball’s inner circles. His fastball approaches 100 miles-per-hour and moves dramatically. His curveball is about twenty miles per hour slower than his fastball and has been known to defy gravity. Strasburg is the real deal.

Strasburg & Social Media

I see a great opportunity for Strasburg to really change the game for Major League Baseball when it comes to social media. None of the league’s superstars have truly embraced Facebook or Twitter (the league’s best social media user is Nick Swisher, but hard to call him a superstar). Other leagues have big-time players using social media, but the MLB does not.

There is a ton of hype around Strasburg, and while he hasn’t proven himself at the major league level (one start isn’t enough), he has the potential to be a huge superstar. Should Strasburg adopt social media and do it the right way (call me!) he would unquestionably collect a massive amount of followers, and perhaps inspire others in the league to join as well. Also, his usage could prompt other up-and-coming players to do the same, creating a trend in the game of baseball.

Part of the reason we have seen a rush of professional athletes join Twitter in the past year is because of Shaq’s early success. They saw his numbers explode and, even if they didn’t know what Twitter was or why it mattered, they wanted to join. I really believe that Strasburg’s presence could convince other MLB’ers to join as well. Obviously, Strasburg’s number 1 concern is baseball, but you’d be surprised what he could achieve with 20 minutes per day.

Nationals Need to “Capitol”ize (Get it?)

Further, I see another fantastic opportunity, for the Washington Nationals to capitalize on Strasburg’s hype. The Nationals (formerly known as the Montreal Expos) are one of the MLB’s worst teams. However, they have a lot of young talent, headlined by Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg’s first start was only the second sell-out of the season. You can bet that as long as this kid continues to pitch the way he showed us he can, every one of his home starts for the foreseeable future will be a sell-out as well (Don’t believe me? The Indians have seen an increase in ticket sales just because Strasburg is coming to town. Yeah, he’s that kind of player).

From a pure branding/marketing angle, the Nationals need to go all out to make every Strasburg home start an experience. These are the rare occasions when the Nats can capitalize on a full stadium, blast the fans with messaging, discounts, and giveaways. Find ways to give fans reason to believe Nats games are worth attending even when Strasburg isn’t pitching.

A Missed Opportunity

The night of Strasburg’s first start, the chatter & buzz on the Internet, particularly Twitter, was insane (he was a trending topic until the following day). You didn’t need to be watching the game in order to know exactly what he was doing. Had Strasburg been present on social media, or had the Washington Nationals engaged with anyone and everyone talking about Strasburg and/or run a social media campaign around Strasburg’s first start, all would have seen a tremendous impact. While Strasburg & the Nationals got a lot of social media buzz from his first start, none of those messages were engaged with. Sure, the Nationals asked people to tell them what they thought, but they didn’t @reply any of them. Sure, the Nationals offered up a signed ball from the game, but they’re just running an auction through MLB.com. Time to get more engaging and more creative.

Closing it Out

The bottom line is this: Steven Strasburg is a phenomenal pitcher and is on his way to being a superstar professional athlete.

  1. But is it enough anymore just to be great on the field? Fans now have the opportunity to connect with their favorite athletes like never before, and while athletes aren’t required to be present or active on social media, it’s a bit of a disappointment for fans when they’re not. Further, Strasburg is a monster personal brand right now, and in this day and age, brands can’t afford not to be on social media.
  2. The Nationals need to be creative, engaging, and take this opportunity as a chance to knock it out of the park (sorry, had to do it). That’s it, plain and simple. No more missed opportunities.

As a Phillies fan, I’m some mix of excited and terrified that my team will face Strasburg several times per year for the foreseeable future. He has unbelievable “stuff” and his potential to dominate this league for a long time is great. What do you think of Strasburg in general? Do you think he could change the dynamic between the game of baseball and social media? Let’s continue to conversation below.

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Image by Geoff Livingston

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9 Responses to Stephen Strasburg’s Social Media Potential

  1. The Seat Geek June 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    One of the few Strasburg posts I have actually read all the way through in a while. I like the social media angle. At SeatGeek we have been tracking his impact on ticket prices and, although positive, there is a lot more room for him to be marketed (social media obviously being one channel).

    This is where we looked at the secondary ticket market activity (price and volume):

    http://seatgeek.com/sports/sports-data/strasbur

  2. The Seat Geek June 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    One of the few Strasburg posts I have actually read all the way through in a while. I like the social media angle. At SeatGeek we have been tracking his impact on ticket prices and, although positive, there is a lot more room for him to be marketed (social media obviously being one channel).

    This is where we looked at the secondary ticket market activity (price and volume):

    http://seatgeek.com/sports/sports-data/strasbur

  3. peterrobertcasey June 10, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    Is there a mobile radar gun or “how to pitch certain pitches” app? I'd brand one around Strasburg. Great read, Sam.

  4. gosam June 10, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Peter, love those ideas. Maybe someone from the Nationals will read this & execute! 😉

  5. gosam June 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Thanks! Tried to take a bit of a different angle with this post, so I'm glad you enjoyed it enough to read it all! That data is quiiiite interesting, thanks for sharing! Will be interesting to see the impact Strasburg has on ticket sales. Kinda like LBJ in basketball, right?

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