“What do they know? They don’t even come to the games.” That was the widely held disdain for bloggers among communications professionals in professional sports as recently as two years ago. In fact, you can count yours truly among those who felt that way. In fact, that was my comment to a colleague a few seasons ago when I was the director of media relations for the San Francisco Giants.
Times change! So has the communications business. Opinions change too. I know mine has.
That’s why I want to applaud the Cleveland Indians for becoming the first Major League Baseball team to set aside a special section for 10 bloggers and social media users called the “Tribe Social Deck” at Progressive Field. By inviting these journalists – everyone with a smart phone is a journalist now – to sit in a special section of the bleachers with wireless Internet and a TV, the Indians are proving that they understand the communications game has changed.
I spoke with my former colleague Curtis Danberg, the Indians Director of Communications & Creative Services, and he said, “We needed to be aggressive. We need to re-connect with our fans and connect with new fans. Social media allows us to find out what our fans are thinking.”
Social media is an excellent tool for teams or businesses to know what their customers are saying about their brand in real time. At Xenophon we use a proprietary social media monitoring service to tell our clients what’s being said about their brand and by whom. We use the information from these reports to develop communications strategies for our clients.
After reviewing the data, the Indians have a winner. Since the news of Tribe Social Deck hit earlier this week, 96 percent of the digital mentions have been positive. We also found the word “cool” was used in 13.3 percent of the mentions, with following positive words already being mention: enjoyed (6.7 percent), generous (6.7 percent), good (6.7 percent) and innovative (6.7 percent). Our tool also allowed us to find the most influential people commenting on Tribe Deck, which would be helpful to the Indians as they invite new media members to future games.
I’ll be closely monitoring the Indians with a newfound respect. A respect that I also have gained for bloggers and Tweeters after I took the time to educate myself and learn their voice is extremely important.
Consider me converted.
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