Bryan Srabian of the San Francisco Giants shares secrets to sports social media success
The San Francisco Giants baseball season recently wrapped up and the players enter their offseason, but Director of Social Media Bryan Srabian gets no such break. Tasked with keeping the Giants' fanbase engaged throughout the entire year, Srabian discusses strategies for keeping your marketing messaging on the social forefront during even the slowest times of the year.
Srabian talks specifics about how the Giants are using social media as a larger part of the marketing plan, how social is used in campaigns with specific objectives like selling tickets and raising awareness, and different it is to manage sports social marketing during a World Series season versus a non-playoff year.
Do your customers sometimes become upset? Well, that's a reality of almost any sports franchise. Find out how Srabian and the Giants handle irate fans though social.
Highlights from the interview
Social Brands and Influencers: Where does social sit as part of the overall marketing efforts with the San Francisco Giants?
Bryan Srabian: It (goes) to the very top of the conversation. At one point, social was kind of on its own island, and I would kind of just mimic what everyone else was saying. It was just another channel for us. Now social is part of the evolution of what we're talking about from a campaign standpoint — let's get social involved from the beginning instead of at the end. We might be doing something in an overall campaign, but for social we remember who is on there, who is our audience and if it makes sense to broadcast to them in that way or do we do something else. There has been a big education process, not just for me but for the company and our executive team understanding how social works in the overall business operation.
SBI: How do the Giants measure the success of your social media efforts?
BS: Sometimes that tricky and sometimes that's easy; it always starts with what's the goal and objective of a certain campaign. Is it to sell tickets? Is it to raise awareness? I think we're past the point of (campaigns with the objective of) gaining followers; not that we're not trying to gain followers, but that's not the No. 1 goal. We feel that we have a really engaged fanbase, and our job is to keep them engaged. We're not trying to tell them what to say, but we're trying to get them to talk as much about the Giants as possible. We learn from that. We're measuring everything from hashtags to retweets ... we've got some tools and we get a lot of data, but I think as someone like me, I'm involved in it daily there's an eye-test and I can tell based on overall activity if we're doing something right. ... We're looking for that engagement and activity.
SBI: How do you handle the irate fan on your social channels?
BS: When you're down in the trenches and you're reading those ... it's hard not to take it personal because it's @SFGiants ... and that's who we are; we're answering those questions. Even though I have nothing to do with (baseball operations). My name might sound like (Giants General Manager Brian) Sabean, but I have zero to do with what the team does on the field. It's kind of a new role. I'm speaking on behalf of the team, but I'm not speaking on behalf of the team. I can't justify a trade or justify why a manager did a certain strategy in a game. So, most of the time, you don't answer those types of tweets, if you just aren't qualified to answer them. If it has something to do with a season ticket holder not happen with prices, or something to do with the event itself ... you just tell them you I pass along your concerns. ... I think most people just want to be heard, and if they're irate and they've got a real issue, you want to take care of that right away. If they just want to vent a little bit about how frustrated they are with the overall team, I think it's important. They should, because they are the fans; they are basically the owners of the team. So I think you need to give them that platform. ... When my CEO or the VP of Marketing asks how are fans feeling, I'm able to give them an honest answer. I'm able to pull up examples and say, "Well, here are three tweets that kind of represent the sentiment of the (fans) right now." ... We're able to address them, or at least give a reason why something is a certain way. They might not like the answer, but I think they'll appreciate the fact that you listened and you gave them an answer why.
Below you'll find just a snippet of the rest of the questions we asked Srabian; be sure to listen to the podcast to hear his answers.
- So, the SF Giants General Manager and SVP is Brian Sabean... and you're Bryan Srabian... how big of a pain in the ass is that?
- You've been a huge fan of the SF Giants for awhile... and you've been working for the Giants since the mid-90s, right? Tell us about the journey... from Corporate Sponsorship Coordinator, to Manger of Game Entertainment to Director of Marketing... and now Director of Social media for the Giants... And how you continue to evolve your skillsets?
- The San Francisco Giants are the most active team on Twitter with over 35,000 tweets, which is far and away the most in the National League. Where does most of that content come from?
- SF Giants get 62% more interactions on Facebook when they win vs lose. The same is true on twitter-- not just for you, but other teams in the league, and other leagues. So perhaps the job of the head of digital is to just win, since that drives the most engagement?
- Is this a sign of fair weather fans or the fact that people are more apt to celebrate than complain on social?
- Last year, ended with a parade, this year the Giants are basement dwellers of the NL West, how difficult is it to manage social media in those two different environments?
- AT&T Park is one of the most technologically savvy stadiums in MLB, what are some of the coolest ways you all use tech at the stadium? BTW, you've got killer WiFi and 4G at that stadium.
- How do you approach the various different social media channels for the Giants? What are some interesting things that you've found?
- How the SF Giants are leveraging social media to sell tickets using their “dynamic pricing model?”
- What is your favorite of the best fan-generated content?
- Do you have a social media policy?
- Do you have a "mission control center" to manage social in real-time during games? Who else is apart of that team?
- When you play big rivalry games, do things get heat up on twitter? How do you handle it?
- You're an adjunct professor at the University of SF Sports Management program. What does the curriculum look like, and what advice would you share for those who maybe want to get into digital sports management?