Yesterday was the perfect day for baseball in the Bay Area. And, never one to pass up the opportunity to see America’s Pastime, especially a Major League Baseball game, I strolled into AT&T Park for the Giants-Diamondbacks rubber game on the invitation of Bryan Srabian, the Giants’s director of social media. I was anxious to see how the Giants were integrating social media in the fan experience, especially after hearing about their addition of a Social Media Cafe at the ballpark.
The word that struck me as I witnessed the various components of the ballpark experience for the Giants, relative to social media, was “integrated.” The concourse monitors rotate before the game panels showing the players and even front office staff and their respective Twitter accounts. The ribbon scoreboards on the stadium side constantly pound hashtags and promotions to get fans involved in the online conversation. The Giants on Instagram happened to be a big promo yesterday … I saw invites to join them and tag photos in 4-5 different places around the stadium. Even the television broadcasts promote various hashtag conversation streams and encourage fans to share in the experience.
And then there’s the @Cafe_SF in left center where fans can get a Peet’s Coffee & Tea order and sit under a massive video board showing almost real-time Tweets directed at the Giants’s various accounts or using any of the main organization hashtags. The background (and corner) graphics on the board are geolocation of the Tweets from around the world, mapped to show the global nature of San Francisco’s fan base. The player Twitter accounts and fan-generated Tweets about the players appear, as do ticker read outs of @SFGiants Tweets.
As the fans stand and admire the conversation around the team or the game, they can turn to their left and actually see the team’s social command center. A four-person staff runs it each game and answers questions of fans who stop to stare at the massive monitor displaying Tweetdeck columns and other social feeds.
And to cap it all off, there are AT&T Recharging Stations at various locations throughout the park and in the @Cafe_SF. Couple that with the free on-site WiFI AT&T provides anyone wishing to connect and you’ve got yourself an integrated engagement experience that encourages and empowers fans to share their experiences at the park, engage with the team and its properties and players and even pay attention to sponsors of the team trying to earn some mindshare for their involvement.
I chatted with an older couple enjoying a coffee before the game about what they were seeing. They were fascinated. Then, they noticed one of my Tweets pop up on the board. Their amazement heightened. They immediately started to talk about their brother in Seattle who was a die-hard Giants fan away from the Bay Area. I explained how social media helps their brother connect with other Giants fans, see their Tweets and posts from the ballpark on game day and transport himself to San Francisco where he’s chatting with people just like him, rather than hear Mariners fans blather on about always selling off their best players.
They started getting it.
Integrated social makes connecting to like-minded people easy and profitable. The Giants have innovated in the space here and brought social to the fan experience in and out of the ballpark. Event venues, concert halls, arts centers, sports venues and even professional and amateur sports organizations could take a cue here and build better engagement for their fans, too. At a minimum, the offerings create top of mind awareness and exposure for your brand and potential sponsors or partners. If done with an integrated business strategy, this type of offering can drive business sales as well.
The next time you’re in AT&T Park, you should stop by the Cafe and see it for yourself. You’ll walk away impressed. And perhaps with some neat ideas.
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