Update March 2014: The 2014 baseball season is upon us. and the White Sox are busting out of the social media gate doing some awesome things for their fans this year as well. Follow the conversation at #SoxSocial
If you’re a venue general manager or a team president, I have two words for you. “WI-FI”. We’re in the communication age. Everyone is tethered to a computer, smartphone or tablet. Even when they’re in your building, they’re talking to their friends and sharing their experiences…that is if your venue provides strong wireless Internet access.
Please key in on the word “strong”. If you are not providing a substantial signal in your building you are doing a disservice to your fans. And trust me, they will tell everyone how bad your connection sucks.
You definitely don’t want 20,0000+ people fighting to get that perfect image on Instagram. Don’t be that venue that shows itself as being in the last century by having a noticeable lag in allowing fans to upload videos to YouTube or updates to Twitter. You don’t want to impede conversation, you want to facilitate it.
But once you’ve taken care of your wi-fi, you’re only halfway there. Now, just as you have a press box for reporters, you’ll need a social box for your citizen journalists. The collective voices of your fans is much louder than that of the local beat reporter.
Case in point. The Chicago White Sox are leaders in social media and they are real trailblazers in this regard. The CWS opened a new “social media lounge” behind Section 154 down the left-field line.
The #SoxSocial Lounge features seating, multiple televisions streaming White Sox social media content as well as showing the game. During home games fans will now be able to take advantage of multiple TV screens featuring social content from multiple platforms and game telecasts, free wifi, as well as charging stations.
The #SoxSocial Lounge will also host a mix of special celebrities and players that fans can interact with. For those fans that aren’t able make it to the ballpark, fear not, as there will be on-going social media stunts live from the Lounge, including #SoxPhone and Google+ Hangouts with special guests throughout the season.
Everything is designed to provide fans with an opportunity to better “connect with the team.” That’s the key word. “Connect”. It fosters interaction and affinity. And we all know what happens when you have true fan affinity.
But, as we all know, the suits will want to see a return. Most of them still don’t get social media and they treat it like a sales platform, but in as far as the early results, this seems to be helping. White Sox attendance was up 12 percent over the same point in the season last year. This from a 3rd place team that was 5 games behind at the time this was written. So I think it’s safe to say, the social media lounge sure doesn’t hurt.
If the conversation is any indicator, it definitely helps. Check out the conversation here and judge for yourself.
This is such a good idea that I’ll be recommending this to my sports clients and future sports and venue clients. In today’s day and age you MUST encourage the conversation. And for Pete’s sake. Make sure your wi-fi access can handle the demand.