With Major League Baseball's All-Star Game break now over, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox appear to be strong candidates for mid-season honors when it comes to innovative social media marketing. Plugging into MLB's ongoing advocacy sponsorship of Stand Up To Cancer, the teams' officials agreed to have a "tweet-off" on May 26 when they met at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
The Twitter-based competition playfully pitted the Indians' mascot "Slider" against "Southpaw," the mascot for the White Sox. Each mascot was set up with a Twitter account (@SliderTheMascot and @Southpaw) to integrate the characters into an event that would ultimately succeed or fail with tech-savvy baseball fans. To promote the tweet-off, "Southpaw" went on a week-long road trip with the White Sox and attended the team's visit to the White House, where they chatted with well-known Chicago fan President Obama.
When the White Sox arrived in Cleveland for the May 26 game, fans for both teams were encouraged to out-tweet each other with the hash-tags #GoWhiteSox and #GoTribe. Each tweet would produce a $1 donation for Stand Up To Cancer. The two teams are American League Central Division rivals.
To push the initiative leading up to the game, a press release ran on the homepage of the teams' websites and professional baseball's flagship site, MLB.com. The social media agency behind the effort, The Digital Royalty, also orchestrated tweets for the following handles: @TribeTalk, @InsidetheSox, @Southpaw, @SlidertheMascot, @SU2C, and @DigitalRoyalty. The combined firehose from the handles entailed 1.3 million followers. The contest was also promoted via Facebook pages for the teams and The Digital Royalty.
From the first pitch to the last out of the game, 13,830 tweets were accrued. And, the White Sox fans helped "Southpaw" edge Cleveland's "Slider" (see image to the right) in the tweet-off, 7,349 to 6,481. The Indians pledged to contribute $1,000 for the first thousand tweets, but the organization doubled the promise to $2,000 because of the significant response, said Rob Campbell, spokesperson for the Cleveland team.
"[The effort] exceeded our expectations in terms of fan engagement and overall reception in the social media community," Campbell said. "The organization saw it as a great way to leverage Twitter to both generate buzz around our matchup with the White Sox and to help raise money for cancer research."
In addition, the White Sox donated $4,000 to the effort. Therefore, the 2-hour, 44-minute ballgame produced nearly $6,000 for cancer research.
Amy Martin, founder of The Digital Royalty, added, "The event became a worldwide trending topic for both teams on Twitter. The fan bases were super engaged during that time period. It exposed the excitement throughout both Cleveland and Chicago's markets. We are in discussions for another [Twitter event]."
With the help of The Digital Royalty, the Indians and the White Sox have become known among their MLB peers as two of the most aggressive social media marketers in the league. Cleveland, in particular, has run various social media-only promotions for tickets, merchandise, and food and beverages.
And interestingly, the Indians' home ballpark, Progressive Field, this season has created a WiFi-enabled seating section called the "Tribe Social Deck." Game attendees are encouraged to bring their laptops.
"The Tribe Social Deck is the physical component of our social media presence," Campbell explained. "It affords attendees the opportunity to not only watch a game live but also network with members of their digital community."
Lastly, here's a video recap of the campaign from The Digital Royalty:
Correction: This story originally stated that the Indians-White Sox effort raised nearly $20,000. Upon further explanation, it turns out the campaign raised $6,000 during the ballgame.
Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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