For many fans, Major League Baseball’s annual mid-summer home run derby and all-star game are enough excitement on their own. This year, however, MLB is trying to increase the fun by making them what it says are “the most social events in baseball history.”
How? A combination of in-game player tweets, curated content and social rewards for fans.
During Monday night’s home run contest, players will tweet and post to Facebook from special social media stations as well as share video and photos shot from their own smartphones. Fans who check in to the home run derby and contest using the MLB at the Ballpark mobile app will be entered for prize drawings, and MLB will feature fan tweets using the #HRDerby and #ASG hashtags online and on TV. MLB’s recently launched 140 Club will also corral tweets from players and fans into relevant story lines and categories via combination of algorithms and human curation.
But Tim Brosnan, MLB’s executive vice president for business, says the league’s newest social implementation is its most exciting — having all-stars tweet and post to Facebook during the showcase game itself.
“It’s the first time we’re going to have players engaging on social platforms in a game that has real meaning,” he told Mashable. “Our feedback is players want to be closer to the game, inside the game minute by minute, and this is a way to do that.”
Unlike other pro sports leagues’ all-star competitions, the baseball version decides whether the season’s American or National league World Series entrant gets homefield advantage in the fall. All-stars who were voted into the game but can’t play because of injury — including Matt Kemp and C.C Sabathia, for example — and players who appear in the game but are then substituted out will be able to share on social media platforms. Players still competing won’t be able to.
This all comes after some initial all-star success for MLB in the social arena last week. The league opened up Twitter as a voting avenue to fill the game’s final slots, and multiple player’s names and hashtags became worldwide trends as fans supported their favorite stars.
According to Brosnan, a strong couple years engaging fans via social media have the league inspired to keep the momentum up going forward.
“Like anything, when you get a good return on a path, you try to widen the path and speed the plow, if you will,” he says.