October 30th, 2013
Guest article! This piece comes in from Ryan Donovan, Media Coordinator at DDC Advocacy. The topic’s a little unusual for Epolitics.com, since it’s about sports and social media rather than politics, but it’s a chance to learn from folks in a different field. And, it might just be a shameless attempt to pivot off of a pop-culture moment. Enjoy.
The 2013 World Series is in full swing. While the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals face off on the field, both teams are waging another battle off of the baseball diamond. This particular battle isn’t being fought with fastballs or Louisville sluggers, but with hashtags and retweets.
As one of the America’s most popular sporting events, the World Series spurs an avalanche of social media activity each October. In fact, the hashtag #WorldSeries has been tweeted over 650,000 times since October 23rd, when the series began.
Such an active online discussion has prompted the Red Sox and the Cardinals to ramp up their online activities, promoting their brands and engaging their fans. Like their current 3-2 edge over the Cardinals, the Red Sox also have the lead when it comes to social media. Since the start of the postseason, the Red Sox have been mentioned 2.5 million times on Twitter compared to the Cardinals’ 1.2 million mentions.
So what’s putting the Red Sox on top? To start, let’s take a look at just two Twitter tactics both teams are using to rally their fans and followers.
1. Unique Hashtag Campaigns
Both the Red Sox and Cardinals have created unique hashtags on Twitter to engage their followers. The Boston Red Sox have launched #GetBeard, which refers to the Boston players’ postseason vow to refrain from shaving their faces until they’ve been eliminated. Many fans took the same vow, and the hashtag exploded.
Here’s a great tweet of the Red Sox using #GetBeard to taunt the Cardinals: It’s time to #GetBeard in Saint Louis. Game 3, 8:07pm. http://twitpic.com/div3pl
On the other side, the St. Louis Cardinals launched #PostCards, which plays off the Cardinals nickname (the Cards) and quest for the POSTseason. The Cardinals’ digital team also incorporated an online postcard campaign for fans to fill out the below postcard and tweet it using #PostCards
Since the start of the World Series, #GetBeard has been tweeted 21,899 times and #PostCards has been tweeted 20,354 times. The Red Sox hashtag has been tweeted more often, but their lead is hardly a winning ticket, and there’s still plenty of tweeting to be done in the next day or two.
2. Twitter-based Contests
There’s no better way to engage your fans than giving them an opportunity to win something, especially if that something happens to be World Series tickets. On the day of Game 1, the Red Sox and Cardinals both encouraged their followers to tweet specific hashtags for a chance to win tickets.
Red Sox Tweet: Tell us why you should you #WinToday and get the tix. Must use hashtag and get a minimum of 25 RTs by 11:30 ET Rules: http://atmlb.com/1bWkJcP
Cardinals Tweet: Tweet a Vine of why YOU should go to #WorldSeries. You could win tix to WS at Busch Stadium! Use #PostseasonPride: http://atmlb.com/16t4Axb
In one day, #WinToday was tweeted 21,635 times including retweets, while #PostseasonPride was only tweeted 168 times including retweets. (Ed. note: also see the use of Vine in the Cardinals tweet — cross-channel integration.)
So — how did the Red Sox come out on top, this time, in a much more significant way? One reason is their strategic use of ally engagement. Sports in Boston is about as American as apple pie — it’s a culture the whole city gets behind, and the Red Sox used this cultural loyalty to spread their message via the Twitter feeds of other Boston sports teams, such as the Celtics. The Red Sox encouraged their fellow Bostonians to tweet using #WinToday. The Celtics tweeted #WinToday to their 1.2 million followers, many of whom retweeted the message. The Red Sox clearly recognized that engaging influential allies is critical to any successful social media campaign.
An active social media presence is critical to any successful brand. Studies have shown consumers engaging with a brand’s social media contribute 5.6% more revenue than unengaged consumers. Given the dynamic social media campaigns both teams are running, it’s no wonder the Red Sox and Cardinals find themselves in the top 10 most valuable teams in the MLB (Ed. note: mighty bold claim, eh? Social media made the Socks and the Cards as valuable as they are? I’ll let it slide….).
For now, it looks like the Red Sox have the lead in the social media games. But Game 6 will happen tonight at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox will try to claim victory while the Cardinals look to force the series to Game 7. While we wait for the excitement on the field, we’ll have to keep a close eye on the online battles as well as both teams skillfully execute their social media campaigns.