Learn from This: #BravesBash Hits a Social Grand Slam

How can a little button with a thumb compare with thousands jumping to their feet cheering. Or booing?Baseball teams understood the principles of social media decades before Facebook. Teams do not try to sell tickets one game at time. Rather, they strive to develop loyal, long-term fans by appealing to their passions — an entertaining, personality-driven sport; hot-dogs and Cracker Jack; and promotional events.In August, the Atlanta Braves conducted a unique multiplatform social media event. After the jump, lessons from #BravesBash for every team, in every industry, that's playing to win.

How can a little button with a thumb compare with thousands jumping to their feet cheering. Or booing?

Baseball teams understood the principles of social media decades before personal computers, much less Facebook. Teams do not try to sell tickets one game at time. Rather, they strive to develop loyal, long-term fans by appealing to their passions — an entertaining, personality-driven sport; hot-dogs and Cracker Jack; and promotional events.

In return, the fans spend money at the ballpark, as well as tout teams’ brands on their clothes and in debates at the local pub.

On a Sunday afternoon in August, after a game against the Chicago Cubs, the Atlanta Braves conducted a unique multiplatform social media event. #BravesBash holds lessons for every team, in every industry, that’s playing to win.

The Atlanta Braves team was deployed to several digital and social media stations — Skyping with fans, chatting with fans, doing a live conference call and more. There was a live “talk show” hosted by social-savvy pitchers Peter Moylan and Kris Medlen. The activities at the various stations were streamed live on the Atlanta Braves website and Facebook Page for the 90 minutes of #BravesBash. [Link to web page with highlight reel that provides the flavor of the event]

Atlanta Braves Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Derek Schiller, responded to questions I posed to help us understand #BravesBash so that other brands may incorporate lessons from the experience in their own social media initiatives.

Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman Skyping with an obviously thrilled fan.
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How does #BravesBash fit into The Atlanta Braves overall marketing objectives?

The Braves have one of the largest geographic marketing footprints in professional sports and we’re always looking to provide opportunities that allow our fans to develop a deeper connection with the team. We have placed a great emphasis on our social media efforts to deliver a more rich and engaging experience for Braves fans and build a strong bond with the organization.

How did the idea for #BravesBash come about?

We are constantly looking for innovative ways to engage our fans, especially within the interactive and social space. With #BravesBash we wanted to rethink how a sports team could connect with its fans.

We know from fan feedback and market research that one of the things fans want the most from us is interaction with the players. We decided to leverage our significant online communities to deliver this interaction in a new way by immersing our entire team in an interactive online event, an event that would allow us to provide behind the scenes access like we never have before while reaching far more fans than a traditional in-person event would allow.

What are your social media plans going forward, including continued engagement of the connections made on Facebook and Twitter?

Our social media plans constantly evolve as we look for new ways to give Braves fans a deeper connection with the team. In addition to making #BravesBash an annual event, we are looking to develop a regular schedule for some of the components used and tested during #BravesBash including Skype calls, interactive conference calls and online chats. Social media allows us to connect with our fans 365 days a year rather than just during baseball season.

What were the measures of success for #BravesBash?

We measured multiple data points leading up to the event and post-event including:

  • More than 13,000 fans tuned in to the live streaming event on and the Braves Facebook page
  • More than 2,200 fans took part in the Conference Call from the Clubhouse
  • More than 3,000 individual tweets with the hashtag #BravesBash were sent by 960 unique tweeters
  • Facebook and Twitter base growth during the week leading up to #BravesBash was over 35% greater than normal

Ultimately, the true measure of success was the considerable positive feedback via tweets, Facebook and Braves.com comments, and emails validating that we succeeded in making a unique connection between our team and fans.

How might the principles of #BravesBash be used by other marketers?

We gave fans the opportunity to engage with us via the method that they desired and were most comfortable with… Facebook, Twitter, traditional chats, Skype, telephone or just by being an observer and watching the event live on Braves.com. By providing so many ways that fans could take part in the event, we were able to reach and engage with far more fans than we could have via just one outlet or at traditional “meet and greet” style event.

Giving our fans the chance to see our players in a relaxed and unscripted environment created deeper connections for the fans with the team, allowing fans to see the players as a real people instead of “larger than life” athletes. We wanted fans to have the chance to get to know the players for who they are “off the field” and strengthen that important bond between fans and the organization.

Other posts in our “Learn from This” series include Virgin America’s Terminal 2 Takeover and Cheetos Makes Goofing Off Pay.

 

Neil Glassman is principal marketing strategist at WhizBangPowWow, where he delivers malarky-free social, digital and linear media solutions. Join his conversation on Twitter or email Neil to talk about marketing or swap recipes.