The AL Central On Facebook: 2012 Season Preview
Each week of the 2012 regular season, DTTWLN will analyze how AL Central teams are stacking up against each other on Facebook. To do this, we’ve teamed up with leading social media agency enter:new media to launch a Facebook application that ranks each team on its ability to create the most user engagement, measured by the number of likes, comments, and shares attached to its Facebook posts. To open the season, we begin with a preview of each team’s social strengths and challenges.
By Mark Curtis, president of enter:new media
Welcome to America’s Pastime…on Facebook. This year, the competition for baseball supremacy is being waged both on the field and in social media. What can we expect from the teams we are tracking in the AL Central? We break down our insights from Spring Training to give you team-by-team reports for the 2012 season.
These guys are going to be tough to beat. It’s not enough they have Justin Verlander on the mound and Prince Fielder at the plate. On Facebook, they boast the most fans (nearly a million), the highest growth rate, and the second best engagement rate in the division. It’s going to be a long year of looking up at the Tigers unless the other teams can find a way to take their social game to the next level.
Why They Will Win: They have an exciting team and they are making enough of the right social moves to turn their size advantage into dominant social activity.
How They Could Lose: Size doesn’t equal engagement. The fact that a team half their fan size (the Indians) beat them in every pound-for-pound category shows that the Tigers aren’t immune to challengers. If they can’t keep their engagement rate up throughout the season, and other teams find clever ways to narrow the fan size gap, things could get close in a hurry.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox posted an absolutely embarrassing performance in Spring training. While they finished a close second in overall fan size and ranked second only to the Tigers in fan growth %, they looked absolutely clueless in their ability to engage their fans on Facebook.
Why They Will Win: Spring training doesn’t actually count. The fact is, they have a competitive team and a huge Facebook fan base closely rivaling the size of the Tigers. If they were just waiting for the season to kick in to show us their A-game, they could win it all.
How They Could Lose: Then again, maybe they just stink in social media. You have to try pretty hard to generate such little engagement across such a large and growing fan base. A fourth place finish in Spring Training showed all the signs of significant social media ineptitude. Who knows? Maybe even the Royals might find a way to beat them this year.
For all tense and purpose, the Twins SHOULD have come in second in Spring Training. With a nearly 3-to-2 advantage over the Indians in fan size, Minnesota was well positioned to blow past the bumbling White Sox and claim second place. What happened? The Indians went crazy on Facebook this Spring! The Twins got edged by the Indians in every engagement department. The killer was sharing-per-fan – where the Indians out-performed them by more than 2-to-1. Ouch! Another warning sign: the Twins grew at the slowest rate in the entire division. Over the course of the season, this could take them straight to the division cellar.
Why They Will Win: Despite their third-place Spring finish, there is nothing uncorrectable in their social strategy. With some focus on sharable content and some effective growth initiatives, the Twins could be a force to be reckoned with.
How They Could Lose: In a word: growth. If they can’t solve this issue, they might as well pack it in. It won’t be long before the Indians eclipse them in fan size, and they’ll face an uphill battle to out-duel both the Tiger machine and those over-achieving Indians.
The Tribe came into the preseason with their social media guns blazing. The Indians are not only on Facebook and Twitter, they are running two blogs and actively managing accounts on Google Plus and Pinterest. The team is also featuring its “Social Suite” at Progressive Field, where fans can interact with others online during home games. But how does this commitment to social media translate into Facebook performance? The team led the division in every per-fan category, creating an amount of social activity that completely over indexes for their fan size.
Why they will win: Quite simply, they rock. Their only weakness right now is their diminutive fan size – roughly HALF that of Detroit. Only the Royals have a smaller Facebook fan base going into the 2012 regular season. However, if they can place a full court press on increasing their fan size, Cleveland will own the American League Central.
How they could lose: The team might be too socially savvy for their own good – at least in a competition focused solely on the largest social platform. By diffusing their message to fans to connect across so many different platforms, their superior Facebook engagement tactics may not be enough to compensate for the mass size advantage of the bigger market teams – especially Detroit. However, smart money still says the Tribe will significantly over-achieve in fan growth as well, making this season a heated battle straight to the finish.
Kansas City Royals
Poor Royals. They don’t seem to have much going for them this year. The last place finish in the social standings through Spring Training seemed to be a sure thing from the beginning. Yet, all is not lost for the team that gave us Harmon Killebrew, George Brett, and Bo Jackson. A closer look at the numbers shows them fully ahead of the mighty White Sox in Likes-per-fan, Comments-per-fan, and Shares-per-fan. They significantly outpaced the Twins in growth rate as well. Hmmmm. Maybe there is hope yet!
Why they will win: They won’t. However this isn’t to say they can’t make the highlight reels. They are showing enough social media moxy that we wouldn’t be surprised to see them jump out and win a couple of weeks this season. With only one winning record since 1993, I’m sure Royals fans will embrace any victory they can get.
How they could lose: They are simply too small and don’t have enough energy around the team. Unless they get some serious social media mavens behind the controls out in Missouri, the Royals will remain near rock bottom. If only we knew people that could help them…