Atlanta Braves Social Media Venture Highlights Common Problem Among Sports

Atlanta Braves
Last week the Atlanta Braves hosted the first-ever "#BravesBash" program which connected fans with players through a variety of social media and digital platforms. The Braves utilized Facebook, Twitter, and Skype to give fans the opportunity to engage with players and coaches. While the Braves were able to flawlessly execute this event, it emphasizes a common problem among sports team--the emphasis teams place on their number of "likes" or "followers." While statistics are the backbone of any team and assist them to determine success on the field, the numbers off the field are not as clear-cut.

Following their event, the Atlanta Braves released a press release declaring their success by reaching more than 20,000 fans, and they believe their #BravesBash hashtag reached over 400,000. The Braves explained in their press release, they determined their Twitter reach, "by adding together the followers for each participant account, then multiplying by the number of tweets they sent.This formula is extremely flawed, but it stresses the unfamiliar territory teams are moving into and it may explain why so many teams lack a strong social media presence. Below are two primary reasons why I believe sports tend to fall short with social media:

  • Number-Focused: Numbers are a driving force across all sports because it can assist them to understand how or why they are successful or unsuccessful. However, it seems that teams tend to keep this number-centered thinking off the field, and they lose focus on their objective. The Braves created a flawed formula for understanding their Twitter reach, but it seems they were trying to harness the unfamiliar social media territory into a realm they understand. 
  • No Clear Objective: Teams push for more and more followers, likes, etc., but there is no real goal in sight, other than achieving this "number." For example, when a team pushes for more likes saying, "we're only 200 from 10,000," what goal do they hope to reach by having more "likes?" Teams fail to engage their audience, and instead they think of each person as merely a number. While the Braves successfully engaged fans and increased their social media audience, it is unclear whether they have achieved their objective by reaching a "number," or if they are still working towards it. We'll see if the Braves hope to turn this captive audience into increased sales, or if they are contently sitting in their offices patting themselves on the back for reaching the "number."

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