How the Chicago Cubs Approach Social Media
The Chicago Cubs hosted their inaugural Social Media Night in the Budweiser Bleachers on Wednesday, May 16th. Fans who purchased tickets were invited to a pregame social media panel at included Bears kicker Robbie Gould (@RobbieGould09), Cubs.com beat writer Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) and Cubs Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Kevin Saghy (@Cubs). I had the pleasure of attending this event, so I wanted to share what the night was like and what I learned about how the Cubs are approaching the use of social media.
Each attender was given a name tag as they entered, and were asked not to put their name on it, but instead their twitter handle (mine happens to be @digitalbenjamin). Each person was given a gift bag that included a Cubs “social media” t-shirt, a copy of Vine Line magazine, the smallest foam finger I’ve ever seen, a voucher for a Vienna Beef (@viennabeef) hot dog and a multi-card set of Cubs “Social Media Series” baseball cards featuring Cub players that are on Twitter. As an added bonus, there were randomly inserted cards autographed by the players featured.
The 3 person panel itself was hosted by Kevin Saghy. Robbie Gould shared about social media from an athlete’s perspective. He uses it primarily to connect with the public, build up his own fan base and promote his local charity. Carrie Muskat approaches social media from a different perspective in that she is a reporter for the Cubs and an employee of MLB. Carrie said she primarily uses Twitter for 1) Sharing team news and stories, 2) Following other Cubs reporters and blogs to get the latest team/player news and 3) To follow current players who Tweet.
The most interesting part of this event however, was hearing how the Cubs use social media as an organization. So this is what I wanted to share with you primarily in this blog post.
How the Chicago Cubs use social media
1. Deliver the core values of the Cubs
The main thing the Cubs want to do through Twitter is to share who they are as an organization and what they value. This is simply an extension of how they approach marketing themselves in other digital and non-digital channels. No surprise, right? But some organizations lose the fact that you need a cohesive marketing strategy, and that you don’t change “who you are” based on the channel you’re talking through.
2. Get to know their key influencers
The Cubs goal is to not only get to know fans, but also their key influencers as well. This includes bloggers, members of the media, writers and people who run websites dedicated to talking about the team. They understand the benefits of having a healthy relationship with these individuals.
3. Listening and engaging
It’s clear that it’s a priority for the Cubs to actually listen to their fan base. Kevin said that he and his team ready every single tweet and message they receive through Twitter, and they often respond. Kevin asked the group how many people received a personal response or reply from @Cubs on Twitter and a large number of hands went up. They not only listen and engage on Twitter, but they also pull together user trend reports based on their Twitter activity and then share that information in meetings. These reports focus on what they see is and is not working on their Twitter channel.
One neat story Kevin shared that illustrates how the Cubs engage their fan base is that they have started taking questions on Twitter during the game and answering them. The example he gave was answering a question from someone in Section 204 who asked where was the closest concession stand that sold chicken sandwiches.
4. Offer something of real value to the fans
Along with sharing news and conversing with fans, the Cubs also use Twitter to offer its followers great prizes through sweepstakes, giveaways, care packages and more. They just started a “Tweet Your Seat” offer where fans are encouraged to tweet their actual seat #, and then the Cubs will upgrade 1 lucky person to a great seat close to the field.
5. Financial benefit
Just like any business, the Cubs are always looking to increase revenue and make more money. This reality is not lost on the use of Twitter for them. The Cubs also tweet commercial types of messages that include ticket offers, event information, merchandise deals and more. All of this interaction is tracked and measured by the Cubs so it’s easy for them to put an ROI on the use of Twitter. They said that although this point is not the main reason the Cubs are engaging in social media, it still is an important one.
Kevin mentioned that the new management is more supportive of the use of social media and I can only assume that trend will continue. Overall the night was very enjoyable (despite the Cubs bullpen blowing the game in the 8th and 9th). The Cubs viewed this night as a “thank you” to the many fans that engage with the Cubs online. If you are interested in attending the next Social Media Night on September 17th, you can find more information here.