Sunday, August 21, 2011

Twitter and the Twins

The Twins Embracing Twitter Is A Little Unusual. And Impressive.

On Friday night, the Twins held Social Media Night at Target Field. There were several special features, including all kinds of coverage by FSN, scrolling of tweets throughout the ballpark and broadcasts, and a “Deckstravaganza” where some power Twitter users were invited to watch the game from the Twins executive deck.

I attended the Deckstravaganza, which was a top-notch event. Besides hosting fifteen of us and our guests, the Twins provided a fantastic buffet. It was a neat opportunity to meet other Twitter evangelists and get to know Chris Iles and Joe Pohlad, who lead the Twins social media efforts and were responsible for the event. It was an impressive effort by the Twins.

It was made more impressive for two reasons.

First, this promotion wasn’t based on anything that the Twins can currently monetize. They weren’t advertising something that people can pay for, like MLB At-Bat apps or MLB Extra Inning packages. Nor were they using their considerable marketing muscle to promote a monetized channel, like Fox Sports North or ESPN 1500.

Instead, they were just promoting another means by which fans could follow the Twins. It would be like having a “Newspaper Night,” eighty years ago, despite not owning a newspaper. It would be bizarre for the Twins to tell everyone that they should subscribe to a newspaper – even though the Twins have zero control over how that newspaper depicts the team. Instead, the team would hope that getting daily game stories and notes columns would help people become bigger fans. Sure, there is absolutely a benefit for the Twins in that, but it’s hard to quantify.

(As a side note, as someone who was actively blogging about this team in 2002 on a daily basis, it is inconceivable that there ever would have been a “Blogging Night” a decade ago. There are so many parallels between blogging and tweeting that one could almost call tweeting “micro-blogging.” But a decade ago, that passion and independence was considered threatening, both to the teams and the media that covered them. Now it’s being embraced? I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so “old school.”)

The second reason it is so impressive is that even if the Twins figure out a way to monetize that electronic content, they won’t ultimately get to own it. All electronic content of MLB, from email addresses to to the apps on iPhones, are the property of MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM). MLBAM is a subsidiary of Major League Baseball, owned by all 30 teams, and the revenue from it is split evenly between the teams. Those revenues are substantial. According to The, as of 2009, MLBAM was pulling in approximately $450M per year.

The Twins efforts on Twitter are eventually going to fall under the domain of MLBAM, along with any revenues they generate. Essentially, any efforts the Twins are making on this front are R&D efforts for MLBAM, except I assume that MLBAM isn’t funding the chicken fingers to which I was treated.

About midway through the night, The Voice of Reason asked me if I thought the Twins were accomplishing their goals of Social Media Night. I replied that I thought the goal was nothing more than to encourage Twins fans to start using Twitter or to follow the Twins if they were already using Twitter. And I think the Twins likely achieved that.

I would also like to encourage you to try Twitter, so I thought I’d pass along a couple of suggestions to those of you who are unconvinced or downright hostile. I don’t know all the crap that surrounds most people’s perceptions of Twitter but I feel very comfortable saying this: If you read blogs, you’ll like Twitter. If you listen to sports radio, you’ll like Twitter. If that sounds like you, I encourage you to try the following.

  1. Watch this short youtube video on how to use Twitter. I thought about having today’s entry be something similar, but this is so much better than anything I was going to crank out. It gives all the basic – setting up, finding people to follow, and finding topics you care about. (If you’re not on Twitter yet, it’s the most valuable four minutes you’ll spend this week.)
  1. Sign up. Give it a try. Why not? What exactly do you have to lose?

  2. If you’re looking for some folks to start following, feel free to start with myself, Nick, Parker and Seth. Then how about LaVelle, Joe, and Howard? And of course there is also the Minnesota Twins, Twins President Dave St. Peter, TC Bear and even the Minnesota Twins Ground Crew.
  1. Finally, once you get set up, the whole experience becomes twice as good with software that you can install on your PC or smart phone, which is usually free. For the PC, I love TweetDeck. For my iPhone (and iPad), there are all kinds of apps but the one I like best is “Twitter.”

This blog is off the beaten path for lots of Twins fans. We appreciate you taking that trip to find us, and this isn’t the usual fare. I’ll beg your forgiveness for that. But it’s precisely because you’re willing to get a little outside most Twins fans comfort zones that you can be the ideal Twitter user, if you aren’t already. I hope you’ll take the last couple brave steps and find a whole new way to connect with the incredible network of Twins fans.


Unknown said...

I heard Ted Leonsis talk about the Caps social networking initiatives. He explained that it enabled going directly to fans - no media in between.

Anonymous said...

>>3.Sign up. Give it a try. Why not? What exactly do you have to lose?

Time. Sanity. Do I really need more distractions / interruptions / siren calls from the ether in my life? The Web is good enough for me.