There may still be a little chill in the air in some parts of the country, but spring has arrived and so has one of the biggest rites of this time of the year: the beginning of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season.
And while MLB may be showing its age a little as the oldest of the four professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, having been around since 1876 (the National League) and 1901 (the American League), respectively, it is still very popular.
Tickets are sold by the millions. Broadcast rights are valued in the billions. And social media is helping the sport to offset the fact that younger people today are less inclined to follow it than the generations before them. Teams are using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other online communication channels to engage with their fans and promote their players, leveling the playing field like never before between brand and consumer.
Getting an autograph from your favorite ballplayer may have been the thing back in the day, but now it is getting him to like your tweet or even better, having him agree to appear in a selfie with you.
Of course, not every team can make the playoffs, but there’s no reason every single one of them can’t win over their fans on social media during the course of the long, 162-game season.
Only a few days or so into the 2017 season, here are 10 different ways that Major League Baseball teams were using social media around Opening Day last week, and what brands of all shapes and sizes can learn from these teams.
1. Branded Hashtags
Including their own branded hashtag, #LetsPlay, in this picture of Giancarlo Stanton on Instagram (as well as in the caption), the Miami Marlins and their fans have a communal way of identifying themselves.
2. Special moments
Big events should be covered from all angles for distribution to your audience both live and afterwards, as the Boston Red Sox did here in this video of the New England Patriots participating in their Opening Day ceremonies.
A nine-inning baseball game takes around three hours to play, but a home run like this one by Cesar Hernandez takes just a few seconds to happen.
And thanks to this great GIF shared by the Philadelphia Phillies on Twitter, you can experience the excitement over and over again.
If these pictures are any indication, #AstrosOpeningDay was a heck of a good time for fans and players alike. A series of pictures like this is not only an innovative way to revisit the biggest moments of a special event, it’s a great opportunity to put your fans – the people who practically live and breathe your brand – in the spotlight.
5. Special offers
Social media makes it possible for marketers to act in the moment: which is just what the San Francisco Giants do here on Twitter. The Giants are offering followers and fans a clever deal on tickets to commemorate Madison Bumgarner’s two home runs and 11 strikeouts in the first game of the season.
6. Joint promotions
Like other MLB teams, the Chicago Cubs, winners of the 2016 World Series, are being promoted on these limited-edition Budweiser cans. Who could you join forces with to extend your own brand’s reach on social media?
7. Behind-the-scenes views
Give your audience on social media an up-close and personal look at how you do business. Show them the human side of your brand like the Toronto Blue Jays do in this collage of pre-game photos on Facebook.
Good afternoon from Camden Yards. #LetsRise
Posted by Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, 3 April 2017
8. Iconic shots
A picture is worth a thousand words and some pictures are, well, priceless. Here’s a great picture of a great team with a simple, two-word caption.
Capture your brand at its best, and share that moment with your fans on social media.
9. Video highlights
In this case, the last play of the ball game is worth over 1,000 likes and more than 300 retweets for the New York Mets, not to mention a nice 6-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves in the teams’ season opener.
10. 360-degree video montages
The Minnesota Twins knock it out of the park with this ridiculously cool, 360-degree video montage of their Opening Day win, fireworks included, of their Opening Day 7-1 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Immerse yourself in the sights of #OpeningDay!
Posted by Minnesota Twins on Monday, 3 April 2017
For a how-to on getting started with 360-degree visuals for your brand, don’t miss this guide on our sister site Search Engine Watch: How to get started with 360-degree content for VR.