** What do you think of the plan? How many things do you see the Mariners doing now, and what kinds of things do you think they need to work on? **
Originally published February 5th, 2012
I need to set the table on this one. It’s 7am on a Sunday morning and my kids spent the night at my sisters. As any parent knows, that’s a license to sleep in! When I hit the sack last night I knew I didn’t want to see 6am, 7, or even 8am. No, I had visions of something that started with a “9”. But I’m up… and I’m writing. About baseball. Again.
You see, I had a dream last night. Bear with me here because it’s going to take a turn on Crazy Street. It was Opening Day already?! Yes! I don’t know why Walt Frazier was there, but he looked good. Rob Lowe was there too, but he had a mustache; he was going around wiping off seats and telling everyone that NBC should renew Community. For some reason everyone wanted to have their picture taken with The Situation, from Jersey Shore, and there were not one, but two Darth Vaders looking for their seats. It was a picture perfect day, and the sun was shining. But then it started to snow, and the roof wouldn’t close. I told you, Crazy Street. The point of this whole thing being that there is clearly something wrong with me. I love baseball.
If you’ve followed this page for awhile, you know that I applied for the Seattle Mariners Social Media Manager job a few months back. I didn’t get the job. I didn’t even get an interview. I did get a phone call, which I appreciated, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I’d put a ton of effort into my #HireDoug campaign on Twitter. (Thank you again to everyone that supported it by the way, and there were a lot of you!) I did a lot of research on other teams, and created a PowerPoint presentation based around the strategy I would want to take. I figured today was a good day to share it. (The ideas, not the PowerPoint.)
The Seattle Mariners are a great organization, but there are some things they could be doing better. My Social Media strategy revolved around 3 specific targets:
As of December 1st 2011, the Seattle Mariners ranked #17 of 30 MLB teams on Facebook and #18 of 30 MLB teams on Twitter. There’s a terrific opportunity to build Mariners brand excitement in 2012, but it all comes down to strategy and planning on ways to increase engagement and build relationships with new and existing fans.
The Seattle Mariners have nearly 3 times as many tweets as the MLB average of 5,301, but still rank 18th in Major League Baseball. Twitter and Facebook strategies should be designed around content. (Quality, not quantity, right?) The Atlanta Braves are an excellent example of content-based success. The Braves have twice as many followers as the Mariners with half of the tweets. They’ve done an excellent job of making their content fun!
The Atlanta Braves are finding more ways to engage their fans personally. The Mariners should do more to spotlight individual fans and accounts. How can the Mariners interact with fans better and add value? It’s all about two-way communication with a certain amount of goofiness.
There are some specific things the Seattle Mariners can do to make Twitter and Facebook more fun for fans:
- More candid. Current tweets and Facebook postings are largely generic, and most of them link to online content on the Mariners website. Heavy media users look for personality on Social Media, constantly linking to the website doesn’t generate followers.
- Communication geared towards interacting thru Twitter or Facebook. The Braves content is a great example. (Follower birthdays, picture contests, etc.)
- Cross-promote with player twitter accounts. The Mariners can do a lot more to interact with the players and their charities online. (Realistically, the Mariners could/should even manage player accounts. How many followers would Ichiro have regardless of whether he actually wrote it or not? Celebrities do it every day.)
- Guest writers. The Mariners broadcasts have frequent guests, why not use them to generate more followers and interactivity online.
- “Climb-the-ladder” mentality. As a Mariners fan I’d be interested in how they’re stacking up to other teams. Only XXXX number of followers to take out the Rangers! Ad some fan/peer pressure to spread the word and encourage involvement!
- More MiLB partnership. The Mariners are the meat of a baseball sandwich! Everett is the bread to the north and Tacoma is the bread to the south. Why don’t they do more crossing over? For example, mascot cameos and piggyback promotions with Everett and Tacoma.
I would have reached out to other Digital Marketing Managers in the league for ideas, best practices and success they had from past campaigns. I would have reached out to fans too. What are ideas or things you as fans want to see? (It doesn’t always cost money!)
Fan interactivity is the key to Social Media success. Most Twitter users use lists to segment and prioritize the people, companies, and brands they follow. More personal interaction with fans generates more excitement and loyalty!
- The Mariners should have Spanish and Japanese Twitter and Facebook feeds to capitalize on fan interest in the team’s biggest stars. How they don’t have that already is beyond me! If they do and I haven’t seen it, let me know and I’ll be happy to give them credit for it!
- Monitor twitter streams based on keywords (Ex. #Mariners #Ichiro #Felix, etc). I use a filter program to monitor feedback in my regular job so I can respond directly and with urgency when there are issues or if I want to reinforce a positive experience. I don’t see the Mariners do a lot of that now.
- More player content. More players should be encouraged to have Twitter accounts, even if they are managed and/or updated by the Marketing department. More player content leads to more interactivity with fans. It’s like I had under “Fun”. People will follow Ichiro… even if it isn’t Ichiro.
- Use of personalized retweets and responses. Fans feel good when they know the team has seen and responded to his/her post. The Mariners do this to a certain extent now, but they can do more. Back-and-forth tweeting for more than just one response adds value!
- Like I talked about above, the Mariners need to do more partnership and cross promotions with the Everett and Tacoma MiLB teams. Most young families start their experience in the Minor Leagues because of the costs associated with the game vs how much their kids will actually pay attention. That’s where better cross-branding comes in for building that relationship early!
It isn’t always accurate, but fans use Social Media as an outlet for opinions and as a “reliable” source for information. Here are ideas to help filter information and inform fans:
- Use second language websites and feeds for global fans and followers.
- Post feedback from players online, preferably on video! (30 second vidclips would do.)
- Mariners posts and feedback need to add value! Directly linking the story is ineffective. Give me something I didn’t already see on Larry Stone’s blog!
- Do more to link and discuss other community events to share local goodwill and community support. It’s OK to talk about non-baseball events that support the area.
Oh yeah, one last thing:
Opening Day Plan
If you didn’t know the Mariners started the season in Japan, go buy a new hat. I’m excited for Opening Day! Like a lot of fans, I’ll be up at 2am in the morning watching them play Oakland. When I told my wife that I was going to watch the game, she said (after rolling her eyes) “Where?” I don’t know, downstairs? But I don’t want to watch the game downstairs. I want to start the season off right, watching it with other fans!
The Mariners need to set up viewing parties. It’s completely inefficient to even suggest Safeco, but the casinos are open around the clock. If the Mariners are thinking (you can have this idea for free, guys) they partner up viewing parties at 1-2 targeted casinos.
- Promote viewing parties with free t-shirts to first 100 in attendance at each location.
- Have a former player at each location to sign autographs. Buy Bone a cup of coffee.
- Setup twitter live-feed locations at each stop.
- Surprise drawings for swag or tickets
The Mariners did an excellent job with two specific things last year. The first and most obvious is the Kings Court — A hit is a hit here. Kudos to whomever came up with that one. The other one was a change at the park, the new Bullpen layout. Make no mistake, it’s a total meat market down there, but the idea behind it was spot on. Activity exploded down there and I’d be curious to see what kind of an increase they saw in the mid-20yr old or so demographic. The viewing party is geared towards those fans — and a few old guys like me are liable to show up too. Ha-ha.
My social media plan isn’t a “silver bullet”. At the end of the day, the team on the field is still more important than the team off the field, but there are still things the Seattle Mariners can do better as an organization. Realistically the things I talked about up top are things that I think every MLB team should do. It’s all about engaging more fans — Engagement = Passion = Tickets = Money = Better Players = Wins = World Series?