The Secret Behind the Detroit Tigers Social Media Strategy

We sat down with Mac Slavin, Digital and Social Media Specialist for the Detroit Tigers, and spoke with him about his career, tips for job seekers, and advice he has for businesses starting out in social media. Meet him at the next breakfast speaker series on Friday, June 5th. Register here

Tell us a little about yourself and your role at your organization.

I’m Mac Slavin and I’m the Digital & Social Media Specialist for the Detroit Tigers. My job includes managing all of our social platforms (everything from LinkedIn to Snapchat) and helping with a good chunk of our mobile and digital initiatives. 

Why is digital marketing and social media vital to your organization’s business goals?

People are ALWAYS talking about sports, so it’s natural that when people started tweeting, they would talk about sports on social media too. Social and digital are huge in the sports industry, and people are constantly following their favorite players and teams for updates during the season and even during the offseason. People are also looking for a way to go behind the scenes at sporting events, and social media has provided the perfect opportunity for us to take fans in the clubhouse and on the field without physically taking thousands of people with us. 

What are the keys to a successful social media or digital marketing strategy?

While there are a ton of “keys” to social and digital, three come to mind immediately.

#1 – Clear objectives with measurable results. A lot of folks jump into social media without any way of defining their successes beyond likes and retweets. While that is good and can extend your reach, it’s pretty top-level and isn’t always something that higher ups in your organization will get excited about. If you’re able to quantify your new reach or how engaged your fans are with your brand, it’s easier to start the conversation about ROI that we all inevitably face.

#2 – Great content. Social media is fueled by emotion, and fans are more likely to react or engage if you’re able to bring that emotion out of them. While you may be drawing a different emotion from each post, you should think, “how do I want my followers to feel when they see this post” each and every time.

#3 – Conversation. We’re pretty lucky in the sports industry that fans WANT to communicate with our brand (even when they aren’t upset), but that conversation is what can turn a generic fan into a loyal fan. It’s definitely easier said that done, but if you can carve out the time to interact and engage with these fans on a semi-real-time basis, they will appreciate it. Your replies can be as simple as “That’s awesome” or “Thanks” and fans will still enjoy the interaction with one of their favorite brands.

How would you advise a business with limited time and resources in creating a more successful online presence?
Start small and have quantitative goals. Make sure you are measuring your successes and failures. While everyone has different definitions of success, measuring helps show you what content your fans enjoy interacting with. Most people are nervous to measure their failures, because they are worried about what people higher up in their company might think, but failures are just as important to record. This is where you can learn a lot about your fans and the community you are trying to build.

Brands always feel like they have to be on every social network out there and that’s not the case. If you don’t have the time or resources to join all of these networks, it will be obvious to your fans and customers, and they’ll lose interest. If you only have the resources (be that personnel, content, etc.) to work with Facebook and Twitter, only work with those two. I’d also suggest looking at who your audience is… maybe Facebook isn’t the best option for your limited resources. If you’re aiming strictly at engaging young adults, maybe Twitter and Instagram are better suited for you. OR if you are a brand with a ton of photogenic opportunities (think arts and crafts, food, etc.), look at a photo-centered network (Instagram or Pinterest). Your engagement will come more natural and you might be able to make the argument to expand your team or pull in other resources. 

How did you get started in your field?

When I first started college, I was convinced I wanted to write for Sports Illustrated. After realizing I wasn’t the greatest feature writer, my adviser asked if I’d be interested in working for the front office of a sports team. After an internship with a collegiate baseball team and getting a work study job in our college’s athletic department, I knew it was what I wanted to do. Right as all of this was happening we went to a newspaper conference and they started talking about Twitter. At that moment it all just clicked and I starting thinking about how “this Twitter thing” could really mesh well with the sports world. After that I was able to get an internship with a Minor League Baseball team in California and I’ve been in sports since. 

What advice do you have for people looking to enter the profession?

Whenever anyone asks about breaking into the sports industry, I tell them two things…

#1 – Hone your writing skills. Become a writer. Learn how to write a tweet, learn how to write a proposal, learn how to write a script. Every day is different in the social and digital world, but if you are able to help out by writing ad copy for a website, writing a quick script for a web video and follow it up with a tweet to help promote the video, you’ll be an extremely strong candidate. Even if you aren’t interested in the social and digital side of sports, being able to write well will help open doors. Even something as simple as writing a persuasive email or proposal can help you out professionally, and help you stand out in a pretty competitive industry.
#2 – Network. And keep networking. The sports industry is small, and the digital and social sports industry is even smaller.

Leave a Reply