When things are going good we don’t need to do anything. Maybe. That’s what a lot of companies and people do. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So somewhere along the line, the Cleveland Indians have decided to “fix” something. According to ESPN the Indians have established a 10-seat section in left field for bloggers and social media users in an effort to engage fans and further the Indians’ brand in the social media space. It’s called the Tribe Social Deck.
I think I like the idea. Maybe it’s just the timing of it that I don’t like. So tweeters and bloggers get a press kit, media guide and press releases, and are free to update followers and readers throughout the game just as they normally would. But unlike the traditional press box, they don’t get any access to players or managers.
What will the tweets and live blog updates look like if the product on the field sucks? Isn’t that like fanning the flames? There is not a “stated” policy in place that requires them to say positive things, but I can see it now…
The Indians are down 6-0 in the 3rd but there seems to be a lively game of keeping the beach ball alive in left center#Indiansrock
This could be a problem. By hiring or inviting this social media deck to the game aren’t the Indians setting themselves up to go against the MLB social media policy? Check out this quote from Curveball: MLB’s tight control over social media
Multiple sources have confirmed to me that Major League Baseball is cracking down on Twitter usage, ordering MLB.com writers to cease tweeting about all non-baseball topics and scolding players for their Twitter usage in general.
I know, apples and oranges right? In the defense of the Indians they are allowing the fans to let it flow and are not going to try and control the message. It will be interesting to see however, how many games brutal honesty will get you in the social deck. The Indians are hoping that reaching out to influential Bloggers and Tweeters who happen to be passionate Indians fans will be the bridge to a warmer and fuzzier relationship with “other” fans. Transparency might only get you so far.
So while the Indians aren’t directly telling users what to send out to followers and the like, the whole process can have some influence on the type of coverage the team is getting.
OK, in theory I get this, and I would probably try it as well. I’m just not sure it’s going to work. It’s going to end up being subliminally manipulative of the message and the conversation. It’s like paying for blog posts. Look at this quote from Dominic Litten:
“They’re reaching out to people that are Cleveland sports enthusiasts or fans because they know these are the people that are going to spread that message: ‘Hey, it’s fun’ or ‘The Indians are doing cool things.'”
I agree but let’s see what happens. At the least, I applaud the Indians for trying. It’s just that the timing is not the best given the product on the field. But hey as we have always said, the conversations are happening with or without you-I just hope the Indians have thick skin.