The TaLe of Two CLUBS<br />Structuration, Social Media and Sports Organizations<br /> By Rebecca Sparenberg <br />
Two leagues, two teams, & A lot of Questions<br />How are sport organizations using social media and new media technologies to develop online presence? <br />What channels and technologies are they implementing?<br /> How are they using said technologies to engage fans and sponsors? <br />Second, has the structure of these organizations affected how they implement and use new media? <br />How is this affected by their league’s and team’s leadership and physiology on technology and usage? <br />
The first: The National Hockey League team the Washington Capitals .<br />The second: The Major League Baseball team the Baltimore Orioles. <br />To explore these questions I compared distinct leagues <br />(NHL and MLB) and two teams; one in each league. <br />Both with very different approaches to communication technology.<br />
Methods<br />Interview with Kelly Murray, Communications Coordinator, Washington Capitals<br />Interview with Jack Krabbe, Account Manager, Baltimore Orioles<br />Interview with Jim Grossman, <br /> Consultant & Owner of Legacy Sports Inc. <br />Interview with Nathaniel Bradley, Chief Technology Officer of Augme Technologies<br />Reviewed numerous Q&A pieces and articles.<br />
“We look at the Web as being our basic power plant, kind of like electricity, so the Web and communicating in this fashion is second nature to us now. It’s not like we go brochure, television, mail. It’s Web, and then everything else. It’s social media first, and everything else.” (Washington Post, Feb 2010)<br />~ Ted Leonsis, majority owner of the NHL’s Washington Capitals<br />
It’s a Kingdom and the MLB Wears the Crown!<br />Teams, like the Orioles, are engaging in social media and developing a Web presence, but their team sites and Facebook accounts are run by the league. Furthermore, other medias (bloggers and journalist) can post no more than 7 photographs from any games—no photo galleries—and audio/video is limited to 2 minutes with no streaming (the MLB does its own streaming through the aforementioned website and apps they control). <br />
"Social networks aren't about Web sites. They're about experiences. I’ve learned that you can’t be in the 1-way dialog via social media. That’s why I started listening more and trying to engage folks rather than talk at them.”<br />said Mike DiLorenzo<br />The NHL believes that bringing fans together socially online, and bringing fans closer to their favorite teams and players, is a fundamental way to grow the game in a changing media culture. <br />
Meeting Fans Where They Live<br /><ul><li> The Capitals have more than 95,000 fans on Facebook.
Washington's Web site lists more than 30 blogs relating to the team – professional and fan pages.
Players with Twitters accounts include defenseman Mike Green, GreenLife52 , who has more than 6,000 followers.
Eric Fehr, EricFehr16, who only recently began using the social networking Web site, and has 2,000 fans.
Owner Ted Leonsis, TedLeonsis, also has 5,800 Twitter followers.</li></li></ul><li>Jack Krabbe, Orioles’ Account Manager<br />“As a club, MLB Advanced Media controls our website and our Facebook page, but we do have a twitter page (@birdlandinsider). … [MLB’s control] can be quite stifling. Most of the time you can’t work around it.”<br />NHL is about seeking out new ways to engage fans, while the MLB is still caught up on controlling the medium.<br />
Mostly Missed Connections<br />The high note is that despite the fact that MLB controls their Facebook the Orioles’ have over 97,000 fans.<br />However, there are only three links to blogs on their Web site. The best is for beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli’s blog. The others: one blog is for their minor league affiliate, the Delmarva Shorebirds, and the second for MLBlogs.com<br />Their official Twitter, BirdlandInsider, only has 2,300 followers. <br />Outfielder Adam Jones, THE_ADAM_JONES, has 3,100 followers on Twitter ( and is the only Oriole’s player that is openly on Twitter).<br />
Institutional Positioning:<br />How much does the NHL control? <br />How does the Capitals’ organization <br />use of media influence other teams, <br />sponsors, etc? <br />Post updates on their main page about minor league affiliate games and players<br />Social Construction Theory <br />Elliott In The Morning<br />Washington Post reporter<br />The Examiner<br />Players<br />Fans<br />Membership Negotiation:<br />Q: Who are the Washington Capitals and who makes up their organization?<br />A: Everybody and Anybody!<br />Twitter and Links: Players, <br />Management,<br />and Fans<br />E-Newsletter<br />Both Professional (Mike Vogue’s Dump and Chase) & Fans (CapsChicks’ A View from the Cheap Seats)<br />Both YouTube and an expansive video collection on their homepage.<br />Online Presence<br />Media & Social Richness Theories<br />
Media & Social Richness Theories<br />Press Releases<br />Players' Web site<br />Channels the Team Controls<br />Other Forms of Social Media<br />Major League Baseball <br />Advanced Media Controls<br />Orioles’ Twitter<br />Orioles' Web site<br />Despite the leanness of the medium and it’s relatively low following; BirdlandInsider, their Twitter, has the most two-way interaction of all the Oriole’s sites. <br />Orioles’ Facebook Page<br />How can a team build a rich medium with such limited channels?<br />Will the channel expansion theory prove true?<br />Most of the Blogs<br />Membership Negotiation:<br />Q: If the MLB controls a team’s Web site is their site a true reflection of the team or is it a reflection of the league? Do fans still feel connected to the club on MBL controlled sites?<br />Oriole's Video and Podcast<br />
Jim Grossman , Legacy Sports Inc.<br />“You have to remember that teams are a business and as such they are influenced by the bottom line…Right now it’s a matter of them <br />not to knowing how to effectively use social media and<br /> they’re afraid to take a risk.<br />Very worried about how social media could end up reflecting back on them. The MLB is not thinking about what they can do with new media.<br />Goffman’s on stage & backstage behaviors blur together when new and social media gets involved.<br />
Where Do We Go From Here?<br />Change has to come from the top<br />Both teams’ “online presence” are reflections of their leagues’ and ownerships’ approaches to new and social media. It is also a reflection of what fans and sponsor expect. <br />Caps: Have set a fast pace and lead the league, but social and new media is ever changing and they will have to work hard to compete in a saturated market; it will be battle for online space and time. <br />Orioles: Have to look for other ways to connect with fans. Encourage players and coaches to get wired. Find other social medias and develop new uses for them. <br />Social Media<br />Every organization has ups and downs; social media can help level off some of the lows <br />
It will be a domino effect…once teams realize [social media] isn’t a risk, and that itcan benefit their organization, they’re going to be scrambling to find alternative ways to use it. <br />~Jim Grossman<br />