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More MLB teams turn to social media

on Twitter

Number of followers
(in thousands)

Phillies 691.2

Yankees 610.3

Red Sox 264.4

Giants 253.8

Braves 173.5

Rangers 156.6

Cardinals 141.7

Blue Jays 134.1

Cubs 128.3

Dodgers 125.8

White Sox 64.2

Updated: May 19, 2012 5:19PM

Bridget Houlihan rifled through her gift bag and pulled out a gray T-shirt with a circular Cubs emblem on the front and FOLLOWER across the back, resting on a row of logos from the top social-media websites.

‘‘This is awesome,’’ she said.

Baseball thinks Houlihan is pretty sweet, too, and major-league teams such as the Cubs are hoping to entice more fans like her to come out to the ballpark. Social-media nights have become a common part of the promotional schedule, and some of the best ticket deals and giveaways can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Players such as Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and Miami Marlins outfielder
Logan Morrison are Twitter
superstars, but devoted fans across the country also are responding to the personal touch provided by the teams’ online presence.

Social-media nights vary from ballpark to ballpark, but some aspects are fairly consistent. The Cubs offered specially priced tickets and put together contests for their online fans. They encouraged their Twitter followers to use the hashtag #CubsSocial to mark their tweets throughout the night.

‘‘I think it’s going to be mandatory for all clubs to be not just involved in it, but to go all-in,’’ said Jamie Ramsey, who works in the Reds’ media-relations
department and writes a blog for Major League Baseball’s website.

Houlihan, 33, attended the first social-media night at Wrigley Field on Wednesday with her boyfriend, George Hayman, and his brother, Pete. She pounced on her phone when the Cubs announced a Twitter contest and managed to post in time to win an autographed pack of the social media-themed cards that were part of the promotion.

The Cubs put about 300 special bleacher tickets on sale for the promotion and sold each one. They are planning a second social-media night for September.

Kevin Saghy, a public-relations and marketing specialist for the Cubs who helps run their Twitter account, said the key to generating revenue in the field is content.

‘‘If your focus is revenue and your content reflects that, I don’t believe that’s a wise strategy,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s not why people are there. They’re there to converse. So we’ve taken the other approach, where it’s definitely a priority for us . . . and I can say from 2010 to last year, as we got more involved and offered better
content on our platforms, we
quadrupled our revenue. So we’re up about 300 percent.’’

Major-league teams also are finding loads of intangible benefits to their social-media presence, ranging from increased brand awareness all the way down to a connection with a single customer who leaves with a positive impression.

Saghy will monitor Twitter for Cubs fans celebrating their birthday or making their first trip to Wrigley Field, then put together a bag of free goodies to place under their seat before they arrive.

The Cleveland Indians have a social-media suite at Progressive Field, and team president Mark Shapiro has stopped by to visit with fans and answer questions.


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