Major League Baseball set several records on Twitter this past week with veteran Yankees outfielder Raul Ibanez taking center stage. This blog has previously covered the intensity of the October stretch run of baseball playoffs. But Ibanez took things to a new level with his heroic game tying (and one game winning) home runs in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Ibanez’s game tying, pinch hit home run last Wednesday against the Orioles set off 38,549 comments on Facebook and Twitter in five minutes. Ibanez then hit the game winning home run in the 12th inning, which set off 74,972 comments on social media within five minutes. Both rank 1-2 in most commented social media moments for the 2012 playoffs. Coco Crisp capped off the night a couple hours later with a game winning hit that set his A’s up for an elimination game against the Tigers. Perhaps last Wednesday could be seen as the tipping point in Baseball social media as it tallied 783,969 total social media comments. The 2.6 million comments through the first round of the 2012 playoffs is already double last year’s numbers at the same point.
These social media numbers come on the back of a stunt MLB pulled on Thursday, September 21st when they set their official Twitter account to private for a six hour span. The idea was to give followers access to various prizes while raising awareness of its account through the hashtag #mlbmembersonly. Although the idea was panned in some circles, the account received more than 7000 followers in three hours before going private, and 10,000 new followers while private. If social media is an attention game, this Twitter stunt (and the playoffs, really) was a success.
Major League Baseball has focused a significant amount of attention to social media this past season. From having players Tweet during the home run derby and All-Star game, to the examples above, this is baseball’s way of reshaping how viewers interact with the sport in 2012. All this was helped significantly by an exciting stretch drive and Raul Ibanez’s late inning clutch hitting. Technology amplifies voices, and MLB has done brilliantly to make sure fans interact stay connected through each significant moment.