By: Holly Horning
Do baseball players follow what is said about them in social media? You bet they do! They may not read the newspaper threads but they have Facebook walls, Instagram pages and Twitter feeds. And if they aren’t reading what is said about them, they usually have people who do.
Many of the players also have family members who continually read the sports sections to stay abreast of the news. How do I know? Well, several parents of Tiger (and now former) players have reached out to me about what I have written. And they were very nice, by the way……….
But it’s not just the players who are interested. It’s also the team and the agents. Any organization today has a social media department filled with people who monitor accounts and threads. They compile stats and keep track of the issues surrounding the players. They also report on the topics generating buzz – the good and the bad.
A perfect example revolves around Max Scherzer when he signed with the Nationals. The comment sections of all the Detroit papers exploded with the fans’ primarily negative emotions towards Max – the perception of greed taking priority over loyalty, the quotes about wanting to play for a “winner” and the lack of expressed gratitude to the Tigers, Mr. I and the fans.
And Scott Boras, with his vast department of Social Media Marketing, was reading. Think it was a coincidence that the Boras Corporation took out full-page ads in both Detroit pages addressing all of these issues? Definitely not – it was an attempt to mitigate negative publicity that impacts their ability to maximize a player’s value in marketing.
The Detroit Tigers have been busier than usual this year trying to neutralize a number of hot topics. They also have social media people who monitor the threads and make note of the issues most commented on by the fans. And the topic that concerns them most revolves around how attendance and tv viewership may be negatively impacted. Feedback tells them which topics may be played up and which ones need a boost of reassurance.
Within the past couple weeks, there have been a flurry of articles to counterattack the issues of greatest concern. There was a reporter who was the first to question Ausmus’ managerial skills. A day later, there was an article to explain that Brad shouldn’t be blamed given all of the team injuries.
Concerns about Shane Greene were met with articles about his evolving arm slot configuration. Worries about the 8-game losing streak generated pieces to reassure fans that the return of JV, VMart and Rondon would prevent a repeat performance. Even an article saying the team would be better and stronger because of those losses! And recently, concern over Castellanos was countered with stats of improved defense and an explanation of youthful inexperience as factors.
But just as important as the ability to spin a subject, is how information is shared in search engines. Stories that hit the top of the page in any Google, Bing or Yahoo feed are not a result of randomness. Rather, there is a strategy to get them there which may include payment for priority placement as well as specific key words which automatically boost how high they are placed.
This means that if you read about a concern one day, you’ll see it near the top of the search page. But an article written that counters it, will supplant the former one the next day. And that is part of the plan. It’s not all about spin, it’s also about controlling the information that reaches you.
So the next time you read an article that illustrates a worry about the team, you’ll be correct in expecting another article that counters the information within 24 – 48 hours. And how do these articles get written? Well, that’s another blog for another day.