October is here, which means it’s time for some postseason baseball!
I am a diehard Yankees fan (if you feel the need to stop reading now, I understand), and part of my daily morning ritual is scrolling through Twitter to catch up on all the latest MLB news, like updates on our lengthy Injury List, great plays from the previous night’s game, or postgame interviews from the players. Since its creation, social media has had an incredible effect on the MLB. In the olden days, if you wanted to know who won last night, you went out in the morning and bought the USA Today to check the box scores or you waited to hear a review of the game on the radio. Today, you can jump on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to see all the scores from the night before along with videos of some of the best plays.
The business of baseball is completely different now, and that is largely due to social media. In 2013, Brian Cashman, general manager of the greatest franchise in sports history – I mean the New York Yankees – reached out to Chipper Jones on Twitter to express his interest in hiring the then recently retired infielder. When asked about this gesture, Cashman joked, “I figured that was the quickest line of communication, Twitter.”
In business, when you want to increase your revenue, a popular approach would be to hop on social media and start posting about your product. Why should sports be any different? If you want to grow your fanbase and thereby bring in more revenue, create a social media presence!
Take a look at the top three teams of the MLB who brought in the most revenue last year: the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Boston Red Sox (Boo! Ok, I promise I’ll take my Yankees hat off for the remainder of this blog). There appears to be a positive relationship between revenue and social media following. The Yankees have 3.43 million Twitter followers, the Dodgers have 2.17 million, and the Red Sox have 2.14 million. On Instagram, the Yankees have 2.4 million followers, the Dodgers have 2.1 million, and the Red Sox have 1.7 million. This shows how a greater social media presence directly relates to bringing in more revenue. In business, if you are looking to increase your revenue, a popular approach would be to advertise on social media! These teams are doing just that, using social media to connect with their fans and create hype.
Connecting with Fans
We constantly witness the various ways social media can bring the world together. It has created a wonderful outlet for sports fans to bond over their favorite teams. Social media has allowed fan bases to connect with each other, share their thoughts about the players, and cheer on teams together. Like I mentioned above, I get all my Yankees news from Twitter every day, and I enjoy reading takes from other fans about recent happenings.
Not only can fans connect with each other, but they can connect with the team, as well. They can voice their opinions through polls issued by the team, win tickets and merchandise through contests, and congratulate players on accomplishments by reposting fun videos and graphics. Fans love to repost content from their favorite teams, which is referred to as spreading brand awareness in the marketing world. My personal Twitter account has basically become a Yankees fan page due to the number of posts I retweet from the team, and I often share the team’s Instagram posts to my own Instagram story.
Furthermore, fans can directly connect to their favorite players. Yankees outfielder Cameron Maybin, for example, posts humorous pictures of his teammates, and the hashtag he created – #HugSzn, inspired by the celebratory hugs he gives out in the dugout – is used not only by him but by all Yankees fans. Take a trip to Yankee Stadium, and you’ll likely see many fans sporting #HugSzn t-shirts! Teammate Didi Gregorius tweets religiously following every win with a recap of the game using specific emojis to symbolize the players. Cam and Didi’s social media activity allows fans to feel like they have a sense of who these players are and thus feel more connected to them and the team.
Engaging with the fans and creating a connection makes baseball more enjoyable. The sport has gotten a reputation in the past of being boring, but it is so much more enjoyable to go cheer for a team that you feel connected to and as if you know the players! Making the game more enjoyable means more people are wanting to go to the games, which essentially means more revenue!
The MLB released a campaign on Monday using the hashtag #WePlayLoud to build excitement for the postseason and encourage fans to come out and support their team. This hashtag sets a precedent for the month of October, stating that the upcoming games are certainly going to be loud and thrilling. They created a video (which you can watch here) and a series of graphics featuring popular players such as Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger. Fans can save these images and set them as their phone wallpaper, which further builds brand awareness and sparks conversation about the MLB and the upcoming postseason. #WePlayLoud creates a sense of excitement for the postseason, hyping up fans and getting them ready to get rowdy and loud as they cheer their favorite teams to victory.
Individual teams also make use of their own hashtags throughout the season to build their own hype. Yankees fans boast their #PinstripePride, and the team is known for posting #StartSpreadingTheNews, a play on Frank Sinatra’s “Theme from New York” which plays in Yankee Stadium after each win. They also hype up individual players with hashtags like #AllRise for Aaron Judge, #LegaCCy for CC Sabathia, and #SevySeason for Luis Severino. The Dodgers use #LABleedsBlue to create a sense of fan loyalty, along with #DodgersWin and #IFTDB, meaning “It’s time for Dodger’s baseball.” The Red Sox take a slightly different approach. In addition to #DirtyWater, they often promote their student ticket offer, which is a $9 ticket, with the hashtag #student9s.
These hashtags encourage fans to get excited about their favorite team and its notable players. They also create a sense of team loyalty, allowing fans to use them and proclaim what team they root for. Creating a loyal fan base is key in bringing in revenue, as you need as many people as possible to fill those stadium seats!
By engaging with fans and building hype around the game, people feel more loyal to a certain team and better connected to them. Relating this to business, when consumers are excited about the brand and feel a sense of brand loyalty, revenue will increase. Each year, revenue for the MLB continues to rise, bringing in a record $10.3 billion in 2018. This record-setting revenue can certainly be attributed to social media and the way teams use it for the purpose of increasing fan engagement and generating hype.
Putting my Yankees hat back on, allow me to remind you that if you’re a Philly fan who is upset about the Phillies season being over, the Yankees are the closest neighbor for you to root for in the postseason! Feel free to hop on the bandwagon and root for the Yanks all October-long!