Think big. Be different.

Swinging for the Social Fences: The Tribe Social Deck

By Garrett Moon on March 25, 2011 in News.

If you’re a baseball fan, (I am) then you probably already know that opening day is only a week away. For me, baseball season means a lot of things like spring, and usually some heartache (yep, Cubs fan). But this year, one additional thing that it means is really cool social media for the Cleveland Indians.

Now, I have seen the Social Media Clubhouse before, which seems to be an MLB wide effort and basically just a landing page for online activity and conversation around the team. You can see the Social Media Clubhouse for my beloved Chicago Cubs here.

While this landing page is interesting, for an organization as large as Major League Baseball it is somewhat of a lackluster effort. I suppose it still counts, but this article by Craig Calcaterra, the lead blogger over at the NBC Sports HardballTalk blog, about the Cleveland Indians social media efforts really caught my eye.

The Indians are already in their second year of what they called the Tribe Social Deck, renamed Indians Social Suite for 2011, which is an exclusive sitting area for social media types to do their blogging and tweeting live from the field. The social media initiative brings a few additional perks.

Some of the initiative’s include:

  • A dedicated, and decked-out, suite for bloggers and tweeters
  • Discounted tickets for followers of the team’s social media outlets.
  • Various discounts in the ballpark during games. Concessions etc.

While it sounds like a lot of the in-ballpark features are done through the MLB iPhone app, rather than a services like Foursquare or Facebook Places, I do give them credit for the efforts. MLB’s attempt to control the channel is both disappointing and true to form for the MLB, unfortunately.

For me, the most interesting part of this is the special seating area for social media users and bloggers. While this effort seems limited to the “elite” social class, I can really see a lot of potential with this strategy. The press has had their own section for years, why not bloggers?

The power of the common fan to gain a significant following and voice online, using social media, is both impressive and overwhelming. Some of the most read team blogs are actually run by fans, not the press. Take that right?

Unfortunately, MLB has a bad habit of shutting many of these efforts down, like my beloved CubsCast, but none-the-less, to see what the Indians are doing is promising. I wish they would open it beyond a social media elitist group and realize the real power that social media can offer them. Most of us would die to have the kind of attention and fan-based that a baseball team has. Shame on them for still thinking that they can control it.

Here is a video of the Indians social media efforts from last year. I tried to embed it, but apparently that still relinquished too much control for the MLB. Oh well, we’ll keep trying.