Did Facebook and Twitter Cause David Wright to Miss Start in MLB All-Star Game?

Ken Kraetzer@SAL50NYRadioCorrespondent IIJuly 8, 2012

The Giants may have better used social media to promote All Star Game candidates than Mets
The Giants may have better used social media to promote All Star Game candidates than MetsJim McIsaac/Getty Images

Sandy Alderson and others may have cited Mets fans' inaction as the reason Pablo Sandoval beat out David Wright by over 1.5 million votes in the voting for the National League starting third base position.  But the Mets GM might should realize his team is behind in use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

This week, Rich Neer was discussing the All-Star vote on WFAN in New York City commenting that it not make sense for a executive to blame his customers that David Wright was not voted to start the All-Star game.  I called in and mentioned how big a factor Facebook has become for sports teams.  

Mark Zuckerberg's creation along with Twitter gives teams a means to inexpensively reach millions of fans on a daily basis. The key for teams or any other brand is to generate large number of "Likes" on Facebook and "Followers" on Twitter.

Two years ago, I had my sports marketing class at Mercy College look at the number of "Likes" each Major League Baseball team had on Facebook.  The Yankees and Red Sox were already substantially ahead of almost every other MLB team with over two million Likes. 

Attracting these followers creates the opportunity for the teams to put promotional messages in front of these huge segments of fans everyday virtually free.  The messages can include ticket and merchandise offers as well as contests.

Neer mentioned that a big swing in the voting occurred in the last week, possibly from the Giants having a homestand, basically a pre-social perspective.  He also thought New York is not a city which gets as excited about the All-Star Game as other areas of the country.

Immediately I rechecked the Facebook "Like" counts for the teams in questions and a few others for comparison and the answers jumped off the screen. 

The Yankees and Red Sox are clearly way out ahead of everyone else, but the Giants are fourth; perhaps it does not hurt representing Facebook's home area.  The Mets are well back comparable to mid-market teams Milwaukee and Cincinnati.  Current counts for Giants, Mets and several other notable teams:

Facebook "Likes":

Other teams with over one million Facebook "likes" are the Phillies with 1,227,242; Atlanta Braves 1,179,678; Dodgers 1,092,094, Tigers: 1,032,050.  The Washington Nationals, essentially a team with little history and situated in a transient area, has the smallest "like" base of MLB teams on Facebook.

Now you may say, Facebook is losing momentum to Twitter, perhaps, but Twitter's reach is still a fraction of Facebook in MLB circles.  For official team pages on Twitter, the Phillies surprisingly had the most "followers" exceeding the Yankees, but the Giants presence is twice that of the Mets:

Followers on Twitter:

  • Philadelphia Phillies:        699,399
  • New York Yankees:         655,333
  • Boston Red Sox:             288,951
  • San Francisco Giants:     271,884
  • Texas Rangers:               179,563
  • New York Mets:              113,859

The Giants have also sent out 22,585 Tweets compared to the Mets' 7,824.

Now why is this important to David Wright?

In the weeks before the voting closed, the Giants could send promotions pleading with fans to vote for their players to over 880,000 more fans on Facebook than the Mets could.  On Twitter, the Giants could reach 158,000 more fans than could the Flushing residents.  That is how elections are won.

Now about the messages:

On June 12th the Giants Facebook page promoted a contest and a link back to the team's web page where the rules were explained:

"If you voted 20 or more times and selected the Giants as one of your two favorite teams, you have been automatically entered into the Giants Vote the Ticket All-Star Sweepstakes, and you could win a 2012 Giants VIP Fan Experience!"

If you voted 20 times, and selected the giants as one of your favorite teams you had a chance for a "VIP Experience," tickets to a game, chance to meet players, watch batting practice on field, etc.

The Mets countered with frequent large promotions to vote for David Wright, but did not show a contest encouraging 20 votes per fan like the Giants.

In the end a record, 391 million votes were cast online, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.  On June 26th alone there were over 2.9 million ballots cast according to MLB.com.

The result is that three members of the San Francisco Giants C Buster Posey and OF Melky Cabrera will join 3B Pablo Sandoval as starters in the All-Star Game.  Notably three starters will be from the social media effective Texas Rangers OF Josh Hamilton, C Mike Napoli and 3B Adrian Beltre.  Hamilton drew 11.1 million votes.

I have gone to one All-Star Game, the game at the newly remodeled Yankee Stadium in the late 1970s, sitting in the left field bleachers.  Tickets were $5 and went on sale at the Stadium box office one morning a few weeks before the game. 

I waited in line, bought four tickets and took a few friends to the game. We watched Joe Morgan and the National League dominate the hot summer evening. It was a fun and memorable night.

It is great to have fans vote for the All-Star Game, but a modest level of integrity needs to be built in to keep the voting from becoming an online marketing and social media skills contest.   

Ken Kraetzer covers Iona Basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 in New Rochelle, NY. @SAL50NYradio. 


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