The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was scroll through my social feed. And you did too probably. As the director of Social Media Sponsorship at Major League Baseball, I quickly thumb through my sport’s heavy social channels, checking for everything MLB’s multiple social accounts posted overnight to ensure our branded posts are up and running.
These days, the way our younger fanbase watches the game is most likely to be on-the-go, phone in hand, twitter app open, scrolling for updates in between innings. Much like the success of the game’s best pitchers and runners, the key ingredient to social is speed. We know our fans expect stats, highlights, and game updates on demand.
The way that sports fans are viewing and interacting with the game is constantly evolving, and brands have responded by moving social media high up on their priority list. Our client RFPs are filled with requests for social integrations. What was once a “nice to have” is a “must include” in a digital package. Gone are the days that social was used solely as an “added value driver” to site content. We at MLB are now working around the clock to create bespoke content meant to live and breathe exclusively on social. Social platforms have responded to the influx of sponsored content by mandating branded content restrictions. We, on the social sponsorship side, are tasked to work around these regulations and still create compelling content that feels organic to our audience.
A recent example of our league’s attention on social media was the MLB FoodFest event. This past April 2018, one vendor from each ballpark served up a local specialty in one event space – the event was specifically designed for social. The masterminds behind the event knew that there were few things today’s fan could get behind more than a giant hot dog installation with a branded step-and-repeat, and were ready with an on-site boomerang photographer for seamless Instagram sharing. “Punny” neon signs and “gram-worthy” ballpark food filled social feeds for the weekend and crowned MLB as a true player in the experiential and social space.
With growth comes new challenges – we know we have three seconds or less to make a fan stop on an Instagram video. Attention spans have become increasingly shorter, so the pressure is on to break through the clutter and reel in your audience quickly. There has been a meteoric rise in how important it is for brands to connect with fans on social over the past few years, which leads me to believe that the next social wave is on the horizon. Just when we’ve adapted to integrating brands into the core social platforms, a new one will inevitably emerge.
As we move forward into this uncharted territory, our primary goal remains to not only chase the taps and comments, but to make sure brand DNA is intact long past the scroll.
Written by Marissa Blueweiss, Social Sponsorship Director Major League Baseball
Edited by Cate Jensen, Medill IMC Class Of 2018