David and Goliath: Leveraging Your Social Fans

By 25/02/2013Etix Marketing

At Rockhouse, something we help a lot of our Etix clients with is social. We’re serious about not only drawing lists of thousands of followers, but about building relationships with those fans by engaging them.

The story that follows doesn’t involve any of our clients, but it illustrates a point that we’ve made time and time again: you don’t need to have the biggest audience to have the biggest impact.

Let’s start today’s blog post with a few questions. Would you rather have 860,000 followers on Twitter, or 166,000? Who do you think would win a popularity contest, Derek Jeter, or Joey Votto?

If you answered you’d prefer 860k followers, and that Derek Jeter (the most famous current baseball player who plays for the the most well-known baseball team in the world) would win a popularity contest, you’re not alone. But you also just would have lost the Face of MLB contest to the guy who plays first base for the Cincinnati Reds by a whopping 15 points.

The Face of MLB contest is a tournament bracket-style fan voting competition put forth by the MLB Network to determine who will be, as the name implies, the face of Major League Baseball. For each round, fans are asked to pick between two players by tweeting with a hashtag, such as #JoeyVotto or #DerekJeter. Does winning matter? Probably not, but it’s an honor that fans take seriously.

So, how did a little-known baseball player from a mid-level team that had 650,000 fewer followers than the Yankees win? Simply put, the Reds knew how to leverage their fans and their community.

The Reds not only encouraged their fans to use the #JoeyVotto hashtag, they gave them engaging content that fans would WANT to retweet and share, thus adding votes for Votto. Of course, the Yankees made attempts to do this too, so that doesn’t explain it alone.

One thing the Yankees didn’t seem to do was get their community involved on their own by encourage them to get humorous. By morning, #JoeyVotto was trending nationally on Twitter thanks to fans tweeting Chuck Norris-styled quips about the first baseman that other fans were happy to share. Even major local organizations, like the Cincinnati Bengals and the local zoo, got involved!

Now, let’s return to that original question. Would you rather have 860k followers on Twitter, or 166k dedicated, engaged fans in a strong community?

Yeah, I thought so.

So don’t fuss over the number of fans and followers you have. Gaining fans is great, but you need to focus on quality engagement and relationships. If people love you and trust you, they will buy in.

This post was part of the New Year, New Marketing series. It was written by Emily Harris at Rockhouse Partners/Etix Connect. Full disclosure: she’s a Cincinnati Reds fan with a Joey Votto bobblehead on her desk.