MLB Continues Building Social Media Buzz During World Series

Baseball bat hitting ball in slow motion: MLB's social media efforts: Twitter, Trends, CampaignsGame 1 of the World Series generated the second-most social media comments in postseason history, according to MLB.com. Mentions of Pablo Sandoval (“The Panda”) accounted for 20 percent of the 813,000 Facebook and Twitter comments, thanks to the athlete’s historic three-homer night. No count yet on how many mentions the infamous Barry Manilow reference from FOX announcer Tim McCarver received.

Social chatter during sporting events is expected to increase, as the number of sports fans who use social media to follow leagues, teams and players has almost doubled since 2011.

This postseason has been very successful for the MLB’s social media efforts, having generated twice as many social media comments by Oct. 10 as it did during the entire 2011 division series. This could be in part to the MLB’s expanded online presence and digital campaigns. Nearly every team now has its own Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr account, as well as check-in services.

In an effort to make its fans feel more engaged (and in turn get more buzz about baseball), the MLB has run online campaigns such as #MLBmembersonly, #FlyWitness and Pictober (#postseason). One of the most successful social programs is the MLB Fan Cave – a physical venue that hosts athletes and other celebrities whose interviews, antics and musical performances are shared online.

If the Giants’ and Tigers’ social networks and online buzz were analyzed to predict an outcome of the World Series, the winner would be the San Francisco Giants. According to Sysomos, the Detroit Tigers’ social mentions are at about only 2.3 million, compared to the Giants’ 2.75 million, which account for 54 percent of the conversation. The Bay Bombers also have a larger social following (as of Oct. 26, 2012, 9 a.m.):

Detroit Tigers
• Facebook: 1,118,742 likes
• Twitter: 183,242 followers

San Francisco Giants
• Facebook: 1,586,853 likes
• Twitter: 340,691 followers

No matter who comes away with the Commissioner’s Trophy, it’s apparent the MLB is winning with many of its fans when it comes to social media. The platforms are changing the way not only the MLB connects with fans, but players, too. Athletes talk directly with their fans, respond to their questions, encourage engagement and even retweet followers’ messages – which is as good as an autograph for many people nowadays.

If you want to find out if your favorite athlete is on Twitter, check out Tweeting-Athletes.com.

Twitter Wins During Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate took place last night at the University of Denver between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.  It’s no secret that Twitter users “tweet in” for current events, and last night’s showing proved no different with more than 10 million tweets during the 90-minute debate, making it the most tweeted about event in American political history.

On its blog last night, Twitter released a minute-by-minute chart displaying high and low messaging points during key moments of the debate.

Twitter Blog: Presidential Debate Breaks Records, October 2012

Via Blog.Twitter.com

The night’s most tweeted about subjects included the performance of debate moderator John Lehrer and Big Bird. The Twitter Government account, @gov, tweeted that the phrase “Big Bird” had generated about 17,000 tweets per minute.

With every current event, there is always a PR lesson to be learned.  The iconic home appliance brand KitchenAid discovered this quickly last night after an irresponsible tweet was sent from the company’s official account. The brand issued an apology soon after via Twitter and later to media.

With Twitter’s crisis communication moments and the constant stream of conversation, outlets like Politico seem to think that Twitter jumped the shark last night with the inability to follow comments due to the overwhelming volume of tweets sent. Of course some would disagree, as Twitter continues to prove that watching live and current events with the Twitter community has become a part of the culture for many.

Blogger Outreach: Engaging With Online Brand Influencers and Advocates

PRadICAL: Blog megaphone

When Peter Merholz coined the term “blog,” (breaking up Jorn Barger’s word “weblog into “we blog”), it’s doubtful he could’ve imagined how the online platform would grow into what it is today. The number of blogs and people using blogs continues to grow at a staggering pace (about 181 million blogs globally, according NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company).

As the digital age rises, so does the consumption of – and trust in – digital-born entities, such as Huffington Post, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Yelp and self-made influential bloggers. Blogs come in all shapes and sizes. People like The Pioneer Woman, Perez Hilton and Seth Godin blog about entirely different topics, but have each amassed followers in the multi-millions.

More and more, people are going to blogs to find recommendations. As we know, stats can vary, but a recent Nielsen study revealed, “Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information and messaging, with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust messages on this platform, an increase of 15 percent in four years.” These reviews don’t just come from traditional review websites, but from influential blogs as well (many of them run by moms). NM Incite found that about 33 percent of bloggers are moms; 52 percent are parents with kids under 18.

In March, AdWeek.com reported on a BlogHer study that found, of those who indicated they use social media:

“81 percent of women representing the general U.S. population said they trusted blogs and Pinterest…”
– and –
“61 percent said they’d acted on a blog recommendation and 47 percent said they’d acted on one from Pinterest.”

If you think about it, this isn’t too different than what people have been doing for generations: Seeking out those they trust for suggestions on products and services. Only now, it’s also done virtually.

Companies can leverage the relationships these bloggers have with their followers to help spread brand awareness. Mashable stresses the significance that creating blogger relationships can have for a brand in its post,Blogger Outreach: 5 Tips for Connecting With Top Influencers:

“A single relationship with the right blogger could lead to thousands of instant relationships with targeted readers who fully trust that particular source; not to mention the back links.”

Not only can companies reach powerful influencers, but advocates who are already passionate for the brand as well that can support it online and offline. Social Business News explains:

“[Brand advocates] will share their opinion, recommendations and even defend the brand from detractors. They may not have thousands of followers or be quoted in the media as an industry thought leader, but they have influence within their social network.”

As public relations practitioners, we still reach out to traditional outlets to earn media coverage. However, thanks to the blogosphere, we now have more opportunities to connectdirectly with influencers and brand advocates.

So how do you best initiate those connections? A great way is to meet the bloggers face-to-face. DVL recently attended Reviewer’s Retreat, a conference for product and resource review bloggers, to learn more about the genre and engage with some influential parents who blog. Stay tuned to our next post where we’ll share some of our top takeaways from the event.

The more things change…

Public relations professionals can’t seem to stop talking about the dramatic changes our industry is experiencing, particularly as social media becomes firmly rooted in communications playbooks and technology offers more ways to shape our clients’ brands. However, change is nothing new to PR, or to communications in general.

In his book “I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works,New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton points out that “new” methods of communication have been rocking our world practically since the beginning of time. He recounts a long line of doomsday scenarios that came with the invention of the telephone, the printing press, the television – the list goes on and on.

With each new innovation, behaviors shifted and certain aspects of communications changed forever. But through the ages, there were also many constants. Public relations is no different. While we are experiencing change that feels monumental, there are some tenets that are the same today as they were 20 years ago.

Ethics matter

Whether communicating via a 140-character tweet or at a good, old-fashioned press conference, honesty and integrity always win the day. Doing the right thing for the right reasons never gets old.

Listening is key

Making an effort to listen to clients’ objectives and strategize accordingly is timeless. Wants and needs don’t always match up – it takes an active listener to navigate that gap.

Relationships rule

The two-martini lunch may have been replaced by the tweetup, but either way, investing time and effort to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with media, clients and vendors is critical.

Substance trumps style

Bells and whistles are abundant in the digital age, but if they aren’t supported by relevant content, attention spans will be short.  This is especially true in media outreach, where the best way to make news is still to do something that is newsworthy.

Target, target, target

Knowing your audience and how to reach them is a tried and true recipe for success. Clients who requested a paper newsletter in the past most likely wanted the same thing a client improving their social media game wants today – more tools to connect with a core audience.

The list of new opportunities and changing tactics seems to be endless. But the constants in our industry, while less frequently debated, also exist in abundance.

What are some of the things that you’ve noticed haven’t changed in PR over the past several years or even decades?

Half a Century Young and Still Relevant? Just Ask “Cleopatra” How She Does It

Madonna performing during the Bridgestone Super Bowl Half Time Show (Beatcrave.com)

Reinventing one’s brand to appeal to the ever-changing whims of consumers in the 21st century marketplace is tricky.

One key to success is to preserve what initially appealed to your stakeholders, while adapting other elements to be relevant, current and marketable based on today’s trends.

Want a blueprint for success? Enter stage right, Cleopatra-style, of course: The one and only Madonna.

Reviews of the Material Girl’s performance at this year’s Bridgestone Super Bowl Halftime Show are all over the map.  Say what you will about the performance, but the pop icon who first hit it big in the early ‘80s (yes, that would be 30 years ago) was selected to provide the entertainment for the most-watched television program in U.S. TV history. For those of you counting at home, that’s 111.3 million Super Bowl viewers, per Nielsen.

Cynics argue that she may have been selected for ulterior motives, such as to help the NFL garner a larger share of women viewers. But the fact remains the powers-that-be at NBC and the NFL made the iconic pop diva the first non-male Super Bowl halftime star since Janet Jackson and her infamous wardrobe malfunction in 2004.

How does Madonna stay noteworthy almost three decades after her illustrious career began?

Her Super Bowl performance may offer some clues. How about her grand entrance a la Cleopatra, which just happens to be the most expensive film made in cinema history (adjusted for inflation)? In this “role,” Madonna evoked the glamour and style of Cleopatra star Elizabeth Taylor, harkening back to her own days as the Queen of Pop.

To appeal to those who weren’t around to see Taylor star in the 1963 Academy Award winning film, or even when Madonna was in her heyday in the ‘80s and ‘90s for that matter, she pulled in current pop stars Cee Lo Green , Nicki Minaj and LMFAO to offer some sizzle for the younger generation.

Apparently, someone liked it. The performance was the most-watched halftime show of all time, and it elicited 10,245 tweets per second – the third most in Twitter history.

Not a bad gig for someone with a new album that drops later this year, the release of her first fragrance, and an upcoming world tour.

Luckily for her – or perhaps it wasn’t luck at all – she was able to utilize the most effective 12-minute branding opportunity on the planet to expose 111 million+ consumers to her brand. It’s no wonder Madonna’s Lucky Star continues to shine bright all these years later.

Twitter Launches ‘Brand Pages’ for Marketers

Twitter recently dove a little deeper into the branding game with the announcement of a brand page program on the social media platform.

New brand pages will allow advertisers to customize page headers to include its logo and tagline prominently.

Brands can highlight their best content by controlling the message visitors see when they first come to the brand’s profile page by the brand’s ability to continuously promote a tweet to the top of the page’s timeline.

The “promoted tweet feature” on pages will also allow visitors to instantly see the photo or video content linked from a tweet.

Among launch partners for the new program are Disney, General Electric, JetBlue, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Paramount Pictures and Nike.

Company Facebook pages are widely considered to be the secondary branded destination outside of company websites. Twitter’s brand page launch could be seen as a way of challenging Facebook and a similar launch by Google+ last month.

In addition to the brand page launch, Twitter also announced a major site redesign.

Watching Pinterest with Interest

One online community generating significant buzz these days is Pinterest, the “virtual pinboard” that has attracted more than 1.5 million invitation-only users since it debuted in 2010.

Whether it is recipes or recreation, fashion or football, home décor or homepages, that piques your interest, the site indulges with limitless opportunities to “pin” images to customizable boards that can be viewed and repinned by other users.

While all sorts of conclusions can be drawn about why Pinterest has taken off, it is the visual nature of the site that is worth noting.

As Mashable describes it, “the browser experience is ideal for the small attention spans of web readers — almost no text, almost all pictures.”

Almost no text? Almost all pictures?

For PR professionals who have built their businesses and reputations on wordsmithing, that notion is a little scary. However, the trend toward visual communication is here to stay, and our business is changing accordingly.

To be successful, everything from the basic press release to internal communications needs to be brief and supported by strong imagery. Words must be impactful but sparse.

And if it’s virtual, it better be visual.

Whether Pinterest is the web’s Next Big Thing remains to be seen. However, the site does pinpoint an important fact: visual elements are an increasingly vital part of delivering your message and defining your brand. Pinning down the right images to complement carefully crafted words will be worth the investment of time and creativity.