As reported by the Washington Post in 2015, baseball has an aging problem. ESPN told The Post the median age of baseball audiences on TV is 53, and it is getting older. With that, there is both a challenge and an opportunity for Major League Baseball and its 30 teams.
Teams have to find creative ways to engage their fan bases and specifically cater to a younger demographic. Baseball has a unique in-stadium experience, but how did teams engage fans inside and outside of the park on social this season?
We identified a handful of teams that have done it right this year on social media, each with unique opportunities to engage with their respective fanbases.
#RallyTogether | The Cleveland Indians
This team doesn’t care what anyone says about it, it is just going to keep winning. The team’s Twitter account projects that attitude. The playoff #RallyTogether hashtag campaign is similar to the Cavs #AllIn campaign during the NBA Playoffs, and it is clear that Cleveland teams are trying to get the championship starved city to rally behind them.
While the Indians have 1.2 million Facebook likes compared to 556K Twitter followers, the team’s Twitter account has been on fire this postseason. In just one week since winning the American League, the Indians Twitter account has gained 20K followers. In a league dominated by fairly conservative Twitter accounts, the Indians have not been afraid to take risks on the social media site this postseason. This poll was a response to the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista saying “certain circumstances” were holding back Toronto in the ALCS.
We've had sign stealing and circumstances.
POLL: What will our opponents' next excuse be? #RallyTogether
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) October 17, 2016
Cleveland couples its distinct voice on Twitter with engaging behind the scenes content. This is truly Believeland’s team, and the Indians’ Twitter has done a great job of getting a city behind its team this season.
Canada’s Team | Toronto Bluejays
On one level, the Blue Jays are trying to get the city of Toronto to rally behind them. However, being Canada’s only Major League Baseball team opens up an even broader audience for the American League runner-ups. There is no shortage of the red maple leaf on the Blue Jays’ social accounts. It was especially visible during the playoffs this year with the playoff #OurMoment campaign bookended by a red maple leaf rather than a mascot or logo like most other teams’ playoff hashtags.
Unlike most teams which have higher follower numbers on Facebook than any other network, the Blue Jays boast 1.6 million Twitter followers for their highest social audience. That number is second behind the New York Yankees for most Twitter followers of any team in Major League Baseball. Toronto also has a pretty solid celebrity endorser in Drake. The superstar repeatedly shouted out his Blue Jays on Instagram this postseason to his more than 29 million followers.
Toronto’s social media, like Cleveland’s, benefitted from a playoff run, and the social media team made sure to take advantage by posting solid content to its huge audience.
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) October 14, 2016
Facebook or Dodger Blue? | Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers come in at No. 3 in the MLB in terms of Facebook likes with more than 3.2 million. The Dodgers social media team keeps that huge audience engaged, publishing a high volume of content, but high quality content as well.
In the time from winning the NL West Divisional Series and losing in Game 6 of the NLCS, the Dodgers racked up more than five million total views on Facebook videos. The Dodgers Facebook account stays producing high quality photo and video to keep fans engaged.
There is no shortage of star power in LA either, and the Dodgers are beneficiaries of having some high profile fans, especially during a deep playoff run.
Biggest Reach | New York Yankees
The most storied, and most expensive, franchise in the history of the game is cleaning up on social media as well. The Yankees are No. 1 in likes on Facebook (~8.6 million), and on top in terms of followers on both Twitter (1.91 million) and Instagram (1.4 million) as well. The runner-up in terms of Facebook likes is the Boston Red Sox with 5.2 million likes — 3 million less than the pinstripes.
You have to love the way the Yankees promote their storied past on social media. New York City is soaked in tradition, and the Yankees social team is aware of that. #StartSpreadingTheNews, an ode to “Theme from New York, New York,” was a calling card across the three social networks this season.
It would be nice to see a few more snarky Twitter exchanges from the Yankees, similar to their beef with the Cubs in February. This is New York City after all.
The Home Run Kings | Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles snuck into an AL Wildcard spot in 2016, but were ousted in extra innings by the Toronto Blue Jays. This was an exciting team to watch this year. Much of the excitement was generated by the bats of this power-hitting lineup. The O’s led the league in home runs this season with 253.
Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis and Manny Machado each tallied more than 35 homers on the season. The Orioles’ Twitter follower numbers won’t blow you away, 552K, but the feed does provide some of the best in-game content in the major leagues. How can you not get into a frame-by-frame breakdown of a #TrumBomb?
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) October 5, 2016
Another opportunity the Orioles social team capitalizes on is the draw of Camden Yards. The 24-year-old stadium is consistently ranked as one of the top venues in major league baseball. One in-stadium promotion that stood out this season was #BringMeFood. If only it was always this simple.