Five Offseason Twitter Activities for Major League Baseball Players

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Keep On Tweeting t-shirt design

Twitter doesn't take a break in the offseason, and neither should Major League Baseball's top tweeting players.

As early as tonight, the 2011 Major League Baseball season will be in the books. And as you read earlier this month on Fourth and 140, it was an extraordinary year for social media growth. But that doesn’t mean athletes, teams and fans have to stop connecting with each other in the offseason.

Klout recently published its list of most influential baseball players, and it’s a good reminder that the beginning of a long offseason – no matter the sport – does not have to be the end of social media activity, especially on a high-volume channel like Twitter.

So, I have five suggestions to keep Major League Baseball players tweeting – and their fans happy – during the long winter months ahead.

1. Stay active on Twitter
Engage with your followers. Ask and answer questions. Talk baseball in the winter. Even though the season is over, you can still build your personal brand and help your team when Spring Training rolls around. Fans who are with you in January will be with you in April. And August. And October.

2. Adopt a social cause
Most athletes support a non-profit or charity. The offseason is ideal for increased involvement, and Twitter can be a powerful promotional channel. Why? Your fans will support your efforts, which means they’ll tweet about your charity. And donate to it. And suggest their friends and family do the same. Get behind a cause, and bring your fans along via Twitter.

3. Share your workout
Keeping in shape during the offseason is a challenge for every athlete, so why not use Twitter as a motivator to up your game? Get your fans involved, too. You can inspire them to get fit, and they can motivate you to improve for next season.

4. Give stuff away
Got some game-worn gear? Reward your most active – or interesting – or funny – follower with free baseballs, caps or jerseys. Better yet, tie in your giveaway with a charitable activity by asking followers to re-tweet information supporting your cause. It’s a way to show them you’re human, fun and approachable. And you can unload some of that extra stuff just sitting around the clubhouse.

5. Avoid the mundane
This may be the most important suggestion on the list. (Let’s call it a requirement.) If you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, don’t say it. Too many times athletes discover trouble when boredom is expressed in different ways on Twitter. They end up challenging the athleticism of NASCAR drivers, making bizarre statements based on current events, or pissing people off with their politics. (See the previous four suggestions if you want to continue to tweet but aren’t sure what to talk about.)

So sports fans, what else do you want your favorite Major League Baseball athletes to talk about on Twitter during the offseason? Share your suggestions in the comment section below.

Thanks for being a fan.

Tweetups Can Bring Fans Back to Major League Baseball

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Major League Baseball can learn something from the NASA Tweetup experience.

Major League Baseball is having an attendance problem this season. As of June 9, ticket sales are down nearly 500,000 from a year ago. Blame it on the economy, lousy weather, apathetic fans. Whatever the cause, it’s hurting the great game of baseball

Underneath MLB attendance woes, however, is a word-of-mouth problem. People aren’t talking about baseball. How can the league – and its teams – generate more interest in the game and bring fans back to the ballpark? It’s a multi-faceted approach for sure, but social media is (and should be) a growing area of focus.

The @MLBFanCave is one way Major League Baseball engages fans in a social space. Individual teams also make social engagement a focus, as seen with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.

Boston fans were recently invited to a tweetup at Fenway Park. I liked the idea, but thought the Red Sox marketing team could’ve done better. And perhaps they will in future tweetups. (It was the inaugural one.)

As a veteran of the recent STS-134 NASA Tweetup for the final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, I believe Major League Baseball clubs could learn a thing or two about tweetups from NASA.

With that in mind, here are my nine tips successful MLB fan tweetup:

Don’t cheap out. Run a tweetup on a shoestring budget at your own peril. To maximize word-of-mouth, put some dollars behind your first effort. It’s OK to charge fans a price, but to get real engagement, consider selecting a few lucky fans to “win” a tweetup spot.

Give them good seats. Since attendance is an issue, good seats should be plentiful. Skip the luxury box, though. These are real fans who need to be seen and heard.

Give them swag. This could include a game program, game ball, team gear, etc. And provide matching T-shirts for everyone to wear (or order), so they can be easily recognized on the TV broadcast and scoreboard.

Snap a group photo. Make time to get everyone together – maybe even on the field – where you can capture the moment. Post the photo on the team’s Twitter feed and Facebook page so everyone can tag it and share it with their networks. 

Provide access to players, team leadership and stadium. Again, your goal is word-of-mouth, and nothing gets people talking on social networks more than getting access to hard-to-access people and places. This could include a tour of the locker rooms, front office and cool stadium areas (like the scoreboard or PA announcer).

Publicize. This is (usually) free and easy. Recognize tweetup participants on the big screen. Have your TV and radio broadcast teams mention them (and the all-important hashtag) on the air. Pitch the story to the technology reporter at the city paper. Promote the event frequently on Facebook, Twitter and your website.

Get players involved. Many MLB players use Twitter to interact with fans, so it makes sense to invite them to engage with tweetup participants and tweet about your event. This might be the highlight for some fans.

Invite a celebrity. Your team likely has a local or national celebrity who’s also on Twitter. Including them in the mix provides star power and one more reason to get people talking about your event.

Post-game follow-up. Publish a recap of the tweetup on your website, including photos and an archive of the hashtagged content. Link to blogs of participants. Post everything on Facebook and Twitter, too (obviously).

How does a team start a fan tweetup? There are a couple of options. The easiest is a lottery-style sign-up, or special ticket offer. But for your first tweetup, I’d recommend seeking out engaged fans.

In that case, consider creating a Klout perk. They’re relatively inexpensive and Klout will do much of the leg work identifying the most-engaged fans in your city, inviting them to your tweetup.

Whatever way teams organize tweetups, the goal is the same: Reach new fans through social media. Provide something unique to get fans talking about your team, players, stadium, etc., at a time when attendance – and interest – is lagging.

Word-of-mouth is what social media is all about. And a tweetup experience – done right – will generate the buzz MLB teams need to get folks in the seats. Have ideas to get more fans involved? I’d love to see them in the comments.

Thanks for being a fan.