Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

SF Giants: Connecting Fans Through Social Media


The San Francisco Giants have one of the best and most active social media followings in Major League Baseball. Jump on Twitter any night of th week, game or not, and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of fans engaging in conversation. Don’t believe me, do a search for #sfgiants on Twitter sometime. That’s not even all of the chatter.

Or perhaps you’d like some numbers to talk to you. Here you go:

The Giants have been leaders in the social media world. They currently lead all of baseball in Instagram (over 255,000) and Google Plus (over 1 million) followers; are ranked fourth with 434,000 Twitter followers and fourth with 1.69 million Facebook fans. Of the top 10 trends in sports for 2012, #SFGiants ranked fifth, ahead of #Jeremy Lin, Super Bowl, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and the New York Yankees. In 2012, AT&T Park was the third most “checked-in” Facebook venue in the world, behind Times Square and Disneyland. –  via sfgiants.com

It is AT&T Park, so it does seem fitting. There is free Wi-Fi in the park and a new Social Media Cafe (the first of it’s kind), so this behavior is encouraged by the SF Giants Front Office. But all of that hubbub didn’t happen by accident. The SF Giants know what they are doing. More specifically, the SF Giants Director of Social Media, Bryan Srabian, knows what he’s doing.

But who is this guy who gets paid to do what most of us would get fired if we did all day long? It’s a job of which Srabian say,” I think my job is the coolest job anyone can have right now.” Luckily, he was kind enough to chat with me and tell me a little bit about himself, his philosophy on social media, and share some of his experiences over the past 3+ years as the Director of Social Media.

For starters, he’s been with the SF Giants for a lot longer than the 3+ years as Social Media Director. Srabian actually started his career with the Giants as an intern in Media Relations in 1995. From there, he worked his way up to become the Director of Marketing. He left the SF Giants in 2008 to move to Sacramento, but by January of 2010, the Giants were calling him back with a new idea; an idea that they “wanted to do something in social media.”

Srabian was their guy to “do something in social media” and became the Director of Social Media in January of 2010. He describes this time since as the Giants doing “fairytale things.” I think fairytale is a good analogy. Just in his time in this role, he’s been a part of 2 World Series Championships, 2 World Series Parades, a perfect game, and a no-hitter…just to name a few of the highlights.

Every good fairytale also has to have interesting characters and a valiant hero. We’ve seen the emergence of our hero: Buster Posey – Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and NL MVP. We’ve also seen our share of characters: Brian Wilson, Aubery Huff’s thong, “The Machine,” Melky Cabrera, Reverend Hunter Pence, Sergio Romo. Plenty of meat to get SF Giants fans excited about.

This year Srabian and the Giants launched another “first of it’s kind” – a Social Media Cafe, aptly named @Café (pronounced At Café). Srabian describes it as the “next phase” of Giants social media. It’s a way to “capture (social media) for fans to see this.” The café displays big screens of conversations and photos about the game, in real-time. The “full digital experience,” Srabian says. It brings the conversations inside the park and it’s something Srabian and the Giants organization is very proud of and want to make it fun and have fans be “blown away by it” when they see it.

Srabian also understands the importance of conversation in social media. “We’re not just there to broadcast a message and sell tickets, the old school model,” he said. “(We want to) have conversations with fans,  share experiences, take fan questions. Have a new relationship with fans.”

He doesn’t just understand social media either, he understands baseball, especially when things aren’t going so well. “The beauty of baseball is that it’s a 162 game season. It’s a marathon,” Srabian said. “It’s natural that fans are more excited when the team is doing well. But we’re trying to avoid them having apathy.”

His goal: to get fans talking about the Giants, to monitor and listen to fans, remind people it’s only July, be ready for any situation, and let the game dictate the conversation. “One thing we don’t control is the outcome of the games,” he said. “It has a huge impact on conversation.”

His philosophy: telling the story. “When it happens, you’re ready,” he says. He also noted that at the end of the days, photos are the most powerful storytellers.

During his time, he’s enjoyed hearing about the appreciation from the fans, and uses that to enhance each moment for the fans. “The last three years has provided so many (great experiences),” Srabian says. “The second World Series was so much more enjoyable because we were down by so much and everyone counted us out.”

One of his favorite moments however, came during the 1st World Series Parade when there happened to be no mobile service and no way to share, in the moment, what was happening. They weren’t prepared for it, but just enjoyed the moment. “It was like being in a movie. A thousand times greater than we all expected,” he said. “I just put my phone down and experienced it.”

“(Fans may be) by themselves at home, but thousands of them are online and engaging,” Srabian said. “Everyone wants that community feeling.” That’s really what Srabian and the Giants have done – created a community. You can always find this family online, too. Whether is Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle tweeting with fans, Andrew Baggarly, LOL KNBR Callers, Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles, Carmen Kiew, (just to name drop a few) or players themselves, the SF Giants fans are a family. A family who mostly engage in faceless world of tweets, gifs, blog posts, and facebook updates, but who have also been given the opportunity to make real-life connections through the @Cafe and through event such as Marco Scutaro Rainglobe” href=”http://aroundthefoghorn.com/2013/07/26/marco-scutaro-rainglobe/”>Social Media Night at AT&T Park.

Those connections, both online and offline, have been made possible by the Giants, and by Bryan Srabian and his love for this team and real conversation.

To connect with the SF Giants on Social Media, visit their social media hub online and find player accounts, as well as official SF Giants accounts for every social media outlet you could imagine.

 

Be sure to follow Around the Foghorn on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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