Every year the National League and American League form teams to compete in the mid-summer classic at a predetermined baseball park. Those teams are comprised of the best of the best players to represent their respective league. As well as a formal nine inning game, a home run derby is played the night before. As time has gone on, the fans have had more of an impact on the selection process of teams. This blog will focus on the Twitter campaigns and processes that revolve around the MLB All-Star final votes that take place every year.
Starting in 2012, the MLB teamed up with Twitter to allow fans to cast the final votes for the last spot on each respective roster. Since then, they have continued to do so (Here are some quick stats about the 2013 MLB All-Star game) Usually there are 5 candidates that lobby for the last spot on each All Star team. The team and fans wear custom T-shirts created by the communication department to promote the voting of players. I was able to snag a shirt this year to show off around campus and help campaign for Yoenis Cespedes.
Each player has a catchy tag on Twitter like #VoteYo for Yoenis Cespedes
of the Detroit Tigers had last year. Furthermore, there are emojis that resemble the players that fans can tweet alongside the hashtags. The Twitter campaign is led by the Detroit Tigers organization and members like Mac Slavin, the digital and social media specialist, who I had the privilege of interviewing. He was unable to meet in person, however we engaged in an e-mail exchange. Mac was able to provide insight on how the whole process works.
Mac explained that online voting can get millions of voters, rather than the few hundred thousand from people voting at the ballpark, the traditional voting scheme. Furthermore, he explained that Twitter helps the team reach out to Tigers fans that do not live in Michigan or reach out to general baseball fans and persuade them to vote for Tigers players. Mac went on to explain that “social media in general forces media professionals to always be on.” As for the future of social media and the MLB, he believes that social media will continue to move away from news and turn into entertainment. I found it interesting that he stated they “have to produce content that stands out from ESPN, FOX Sports, and even the local news outlets.” In order to stand out, social media specialists for baseball teams are turning into mini entertainment studios as well by producing GIFs and Vines to differentiate from formal sports news outlets.
The final vote is an intense campaign that requires a different approach. Since the All-Star balloting runs for three months, it is important to change the final vote strategy so it doesn’t emulate the former campaign. Mac explained “It needs to standout to convince fans who have already
voted to vote again. The last day of the final vote is the only day in which hashtags on Twitter count as votes, so the idea is to get as many retweets.” During the campaign, the Tigers Twitter account only refers to Yoenis Cespedes as #VoteYo. The Tigers social media approach is to create engaging sweepstakes and fun videos and graphics. The top strategy is to get local and national celebrities involved.
As mentioned the voting process was relatively simple: using the hashtag meant one vote for the player. Below is a photo story to illustrate the process of reaching out to others on Twitter and having them participate in the vote as well.
Across the leagues, teams would team up and support each other. For example, The Detroit Tigers, of the American League supported their own Yoenis Cespedes and the Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, of the National League. The Twitter campaigns encouraged fans of both teams to expand their fandoms and support each other. It was smart of the Detroit Tigers to team up with a Cincinnati Reds player because the All-Star game was in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, neither Cueto or Cespedes won the final vote. According to an SBNation article , The 2015 Final Vote saw Twitter voting peak at 25,000 tweets in the final minute. I think that number will rise in the future for Twitter voting.
Journalistic implications of this could lead to more serious things like political offices being voted on Twitter. Although I do not think this will happen any time soon, there is potential for some sort of online voting for public officials. I think it would allow for more people to vote at their own convenience. People would be able to vote on their own time in the comfort of their own home. There would be no need to drive to a polling center and cast a vote. It could especially be helpful for college students or adults who are outside of their precinct on the designated voting day. I understand this would call for strict regulation for the online voting system, but it might be a political implication stemming from All-Star voting in the MLB. The campaign and voting process would be easier to cover for journalists as well. The polling results would be instantaneously presented on the internet and social media. Throughout the final vote process, fans could track what position their favorite player was in. The same could be done for other types of polls, votes, and competitions.
Below are images of the e-mail interview conducted with Mac Slavin.