With no word on when professional baseball will be starting in the United States, Minor League Baseball and its 160 teams are turning to social media to engage with their numerous communities.
Even without the live-game action, MiLB has seen its social media following grow significantly in recent weeks. On Facebook and Instagram, video views are up nearly 8000% and 700%, respectively, with a more-than 150% increase in interactions across those platforms.
What has driven the uptick in MiLB’s social media metrics? Appealing to every one of their teams’ communities, and having that trickle down to each individual club.
“It’s important for a brand to invest in community before and after events such as these,” Cory Bernstine, MiLB’s director of marketing and business strategy, said. “It’s empowering our clubs to actively be part of their communities’ support system… it’s been amazing to see our teams step up in a really impactful way.”
Given the unique circumstances that MiLB are in, the priority on digital and social media for the Durham Bulls has been putting community engagement efforts at the forefront of the content that they are developing, Benjamin Devore, the team’s director of marketing and communications, said.
Focusing on community engagement has helped the Bulls improve their weekly social media metrics, surpassing 110,000 total engagements and average 37,000 per week between March 16 and April 5 across their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles. They have also accrued more than 2.1 million impressions – averaging 703,000 per week – during that same stretch.
One way that the Bulls have connected with their community is through Twitter. On March 24, the team tweeted that they had designed four different t-shirts to sell, with the proceeds going towards United Way of the Greater Triangle, a local non-profit organization. They left it up to the fans to vote which shirt should go on sale.
One week later, the “Wash Your Horns” shirt was the ultimate winner of the fan vote. Already, the Bulls have sold more than 200 t-shirts and have raised more than $2,000 for the United Way of the Greater Triangle, Devore said.
“I know it’s difficult for everybody to offer their support to all of the channels that need their help during a situation like this,” Devore said, “but we definitely have placed a priority on making sure that we are doing everything we can to help get the word out about our local businesses.”
This season marked the 25th anniversary of the Lansing Lugnuts, and the team has still looked to celebrate the milestone even without in-game content to lean on.
The genesis of #Lugnuts25 began on January 23, but it started taking a new meaning when MiLB announced on March 12 that it was delaying Opening Day. From there, content across Lansing’s social media profiles has ranged from current and past Lugnuts announcers sharing their favorite team stories over the years to advertising new merchandise for their followers to purchase.
On Twitter, the Lugnuts’ impressions and profile visits have increased by 47% and 29.2% year-over-year, respectively.
After the season was put on hold indefinitely, General Manager Tyler Parsons and the Lugnuts made the decision to put all of its merchandise – including #Lugnuts25 apparel – online. These included items like bats, ball, shirts, trading card sets, and other #Lugnuts25 items.
The decision to go online has helped the Lugnuts see a 22% increase in online retail sales year-over-year.
“We understand that there are other priorities right now for people financially, but for those that have means, with our merchandise and what we’re offering right now, typically we don’t put all of our new stuff online immediately,” Parsons said. “We’ve been pushing some retail online, but we’ve been very sensitive to the fact that that’s a decision that I think people can make on their own.”
For the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, their online approach is twofold: keeping fans engaged with light-hearted content and highlighting local businesses, according to Tricia Matsko, vice president of marketing and entertainment.
During this break in the action, the IronPigs have made an effort on social media to let their followers know of the local restaurants open for delivery and takeout. They have also extended a helping hand towards their sponsors, Matsko said.
Recently, IronPigs executives sent out a text message to their sponsors asking what they needed. Some people replied that they needed things like toilet paper; others needed to get their grass cut. Lo and behold, Lehigh Valley members showed up and did just that – showing how much they prioritize community engagement.
“We’re just trying to keep top of mind the seriousness of what’s happening in the world, but also to let our fans know that we’re here for them and that we can’t wait to get back to the ballpark just as much as they can,” Matsko said.