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Social Media Success Story in Sports

An Inside Look at the Omaha Storm Chasers Social Media Strategies

I spend a ton of time at Werner Park in Papillion, Nebraska. If you’re not a baseball fan, you may in fact think I go a bit overboard in going to over 20 Omaha Storm Chaser baseball game a season. Not only baseball games, but also non-profit events, concerts, and firework shows held at Werner Park. Yes, I absolutely love baseball and the team (the triple-a affiliate of the Kansas City Royals)… but I have additional ties to the team which provide additional insight as to why I spend countless days and nights at the stadium. For starters, I’ve been an unpaid college intern, a paid intern, and a full time employee with the Omaha Storm Chasers. While I don’t still work for the team, many of the people I called my work family back then are still there. Therefore, I still often think of the stadium as home.

Working in sports was a dream of mine since high school. Particularly, with the Omaha Storm Chasers, I loved the atmosphere that we provided to fans. As a city (and state) without a professional sports team, the goal was to engage with the community and we did just that. Over the past few seasons, I’ve been able to sit back and enjoy the games versus working them. Of course I learned invaluable things about sports media when I was with the team, but becoming a spectator with experience has allowed me to view the team’s strategies as far as marketing and social media. Let me take you on a brief journey to show you the organizational social media tactics used successfully by the Omaha Storm Chasers over the past few years.

While the below video is slightly embarrassing to admit I was a part of (kind of kidding but not completely), it is the first social media segment I was involved in with the team back in 2012… have a look:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MxxM8D5GvM).

That video, posted by the official Omaha Storm Chaser’s Facebook page, YouTube chanel, and on TV (they don’t use much traditional media anymore) received 1, 741 views on YouTube. At that same time, the team had one Facebook page, and one Twitter account. For reference, they now have three Facebook pages (official, Grounds Crew, and Chasers Charities), a Twitter account, Instagram, Snapchat, and more. The official Facebook page has 46,308 likes, and @OMAStormChasers has 42.6K Followers. Their newer Social Networking Site (SNS) Instagram account boasts over 13,000 followers.

In comparison to the video in 2012, the Omaha Storm Chaser’s 50th Anniversary Year exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals was recently cancelled due to weather in Omaha. The following screenshot of the Facebook video announcement displays a much higher response rate than in 2012:

With departments solely dedicated to marketing, social media and public relations, and community relations, the Chasers have certainly picked up their social media efforts and have implemented strategies that are allowing the team and staff to make waves in the world of Minor League Baseball. It is evident that their social media and PR team are planning interactive communication and “focusing on reputation management and crisis communication,” (Lipschultz, 2015, p. 73). Even more specifically, the organization has embraced Grunig’s model of two-way symmetrical communication in order to facilitate dialog with their fans and consumers (Cho et al., 2013, p. 567).

The organization has staff that reply in real time to social media questions and comments, and are constantly seeking feedback on all aspects of the stadium, promotions, community relations, and team as a whole. In addition the team has implemented a weather update hotline for fans, as they had to take to social media to have weather related questions answered, which is not the most efficient use of their social media practitioners.

I could go on forever about the Chaser’s successful engagement with fans and clients, but as the team is active across all platforms, I’m going to finally provide a few of my favorite tweets from @OMAStormChasers account leading up to the start of the 2018 season.

                                

 

All three tweets integrate the needs of trust, attachment, and collaboration from Maslow’s Pyramid (Charest et al., 2015, p. 531). The first tweet illustrates and points out a Creighton University alumnus which ties in the local Omaha community and also engages with the fan base of Creighton. The second is a retweet from a fan, which provides direct, personal interaction with the fan, while also retweeting a GIF of Royal’s catcher Salvador Perez, who is very popular in both Omaha and Kansas City. The third tweet pokes fun at the rival team, which brings out the personality of the organization while still engaging with another team. All of these build community around common objectives.

As far as organizational social media use goes, the Omaha Storm Chaser’s have great things going for them… and I’m not only saying that because I’m bias! They touch on the “Building Blocks of social media” and the honeycomb of Kietzmann et al., 2012). Their social media presence, and use of conversation result in a positive reputation. In additional, the organization is consistently reevaluating the way they share content in order to keep up with the rapidly changing demands of technology and social media.

References:

Account, O. S. (2018, March 24). Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers). Retrieved March 24, 2018, from https://twitter.com/OMAStormChasers

Charest, F., Bouffard, J., & Zajmovic, E. (2016). Public relations and social media: Deliberate or creative strategic planning. Public Relations Review,42(4), 530-538. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2016.03.008

Cho, M., Schweickart, T., & Haase, A. (2014). Public engagement with nonprofit organizations on Facebook. Public Relations Review,40(3), 565-567. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2014.01.008

How to Get the Most Out of Your Client Experience. (2016, November 09). Retrieved March 27, 2018, from https://www.satellitesix.com/communications/get-client-experience/

Kietzmann, J. H., Silvestre, B. S., Mccarthy, I. P., & Pitt, L. F. (2012). Unpacking the social media phenomenon: Towards a research agenda. Journal of Public Affairs,12(2), 109-119. doi:10.1002/pa.1412

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Social media communication: Concepts, practices, data, law and ethics. New York, NY: Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group.

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