This guest blog is by Bryan Srabian as part of our themed content hosted the first week of each month, with November focusing on professional sports organizations. Bryan serves as Director of Social Media for the San Francisco Giants. Connect with Bryan on Twitter: @Srabe or@SFGiants.
When I tell people that I run social media for the San Francisco Giants, the 1st question I get is, “Do you work with the players on their official twitter and facebook accounts?” The 2nd question is, ”When is Tim Lincecum going to get on Twitter?” Fans love to connect with their favorite players on social networks. It’s a glimpse into their day-to-day world, a chance to possibly interact with players, and ultimately gives fans a voice that just might be heard. Getting a retweet or an @ reply from a player on Twitter has become the new autograph.
I can’t speak for all sports teams, but we do not manage our players social media channels. We provide training, we give them ideas, and we leave the door open for discussion. Players are responsible for running their own channels and we provide help when requested. The Giants players that are currently on Facebook and Twitter are doing a great job with little help. For the most part, these guys are tweeting and facebooking on their own time away from the ballpark. You typically read about an athlete’s missteps on twitter, but rarely are the positive things that players are doing with social media ever highlighted. One great example is the @SFGiants Jeremy Affeldt (@JeremyAffeldt). He uses his powerful voice to tweet about the causes that he believes in @Not_For_Sale and @OneWorldFutbol.
@SergioRomo54 shared with his fans the joy of becoming a father when he welcomed his son Rex on 9.4.11 to the world with this tweet:
Even though the Giants only have a handful of guys who are socially connected, a number of our prospects are using Twitter in the minor leagues and my prediction is that there will be a dramatic increase of players on social networks each season moving forward. This will provide a great opportunity for teams and athletes to further connect directly with fans and allow their personality to shine even deeper.
We are barely scratching the surface when it comes to fan engagement.
For the players who are not savvy to twitter and facebook, we have done a variety of promotions with them, including live streams on our website where fans can ask questions via Twitter and players answer in real-time. Our guys get to see social media in action, answer fan questions, and learn what fans are interested in. From a team standpoint, we are constantly exploring new ways for fans to get closer to their favorite players, keeping fans informed of the latest news, and ultimately giving our fans a front row seat no matter where they are.
In the coming weeks, we expect there to be a flurry of conversation in regards to possible player transactions. We will be visiting Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez in Arizona next week, both rehabbing injuries and preparing for the 2012 season, and run a live stream for our fans on sfgiants.com.
The “Panda” Pablo Sandoval (@KFP48) recently informed his followers that he will be representing major league baseball vs. the Taiwanese National Team next week.
Although he doesn’t play for the San Francisco Giants, one of my favorite stories is when Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) of the Cincinnati Reds gave a little leaguer a thrill of a lifetime. His 14 year old fan invited him out to his baseball game and not only did Brandon respond…he showed up at the game! He live tweeted from the game and stayed around to take photos with all his fans. Now THAT is Social Media at work, showing the potential for fans to connect with athletes like never before.
As an organization, the biggest benefit for using using social media is to listen to our fans. Every fan has a voice and we appreciate every single one of them. So with that I ask you, what are you looking for from your favorite team in regards to social media? If you follow @sfgiants, what are we doing right and what can we improve upon? The possibilities are endless…I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at AT&T Park in 2012.
Currently the following players are on Twitter:
@KFP48 (Pablo Sandoval)