The San Francisco Giants have had a lot of success lately winning three world championships in the past five years with apologies to Phillies fans who were dispatched by those Giants in 2010 – anyone remember Cody Ross? Pat Burrell? Ugh! Well along with timely hitting, good pitching and everything else that goes into making a baseball champion, the Giants have also hit a home run with their use of social media.
Last year the Giants opened the first social-media café at their home, AT&T Park. Fans can sip Peet’s Coffee next to an interactive board with live tweets and Instagram photos all within the friendly confines of a robust Wi-Fi network. Inside the @Café, is a state of the art 12 foot by 4 foot video wall displaying Giants baseball social chatter throughout the world, including trending tweets, popular Instagram photos, results from Facebook polls and check-ins. Adjacent to the sides of the Pulse Board are two 50-inch LCD Screens which carry both batting practice and the game live. Fans can also view the Giants Social Media Team at work as they monitor and post content to the media wall from the Giants Social Media Command Center
Bryan Srabian, who runs digital media for the San Francisco Giants, has spent the past five years capturing everything from locker room Snapchat snaps to front office Vines to blast out to the team’s fans. Srabian admits to using every type of social media he can think of including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Linkedin. And rather than trying to compete wwith traditional media outlets like ESPN or the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants try to connect to their fans in a different way providing interesting content that they see as a complement to the traditional sports channels. The Giants also provide training during spring training to their players to guide them on how to use social media. But probably the best thing they do is listen. When the team is in a slump, the twitterverse tends to get angry so Srabian uses social media to take the pulse of the fans and directs its content accordingly. For instance, if the team is losing then they generally don’t push ticket sales but when the buzz is positive either because the team is winning or because fans are jazzed about an upcoming special event they may strategically raise prices. Classic supply and demand with a techno twist.
Cited in a Forbes article last year, Kevin DeShazo, Founder of Fieldhouse Media, a social media education and consulting company said “It is a unique experience that you’re not going to get at home.” And that is probably the key point to the service offered by the San Francisco Giants. The team did not simply implement a stable Wi-Fi system throughout the stadium, which is a daunting task on its own. Instead, it decided to craft a true command center that is simply economically inefficient for any individual fan to build in his or her home.As DeShazo said, the Giants are essentially “bringing a community together around a particular cause,” with the cause being fans’ love for Giants baseball. In turn, the café is a further case-study proving how the Giants are at the cutting edge of social media integration in promoting a sports brand.