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Volume 23 No. 28
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Tumblr, Vine to join Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in Giants’ toolkit of social media platforms

It takes a combination of organization and planning with a dash of improvisation to engage fans on game day on the numerous social media platforms available to them.

For the San Francisco Giants’ social media team, it starts with the basics that every fan needs to know.

The Giants use behind-the-scenes images on Instagram as buildup for the game.
“The most important thing in our world is letting people know time of the game, where they can watch it, if tickets are available, and that kind of thing,” said Bryan Srabian, director of digital media for the Giants.

The Giants will post this information, known as “tune-in messages,” on their Facebook page, which boasts more than 2 million followers, far and away the team’s most popular social media account. Comparatively, the team’s official Twitter account has 577,000 followers, and 339,000 fans follow the team on Instagram.

In addition to the basic information about the game, the social media team is well-aware of any notable events happening on game day, from Opening Day festivities to a giveaway or promotion at AT&T Park, or the anniversary of a notable occurrence in team history.

“We definitely have a script or rundown of what’s going on,” Srabian said.

As the game approaches, Instagram is used to enhance the buildup. Before the gates even open, the team shares behind-the-scenes images, such as players arriving at the stadium, fresh paint on the field, and views of an empty but beckoning ballpark.

By the time the first pitch is thrown, much of the advance engagement plans have been executed, and the social media strategy becomes largely dependent on what happens on the field.

Twitter is most prominently used during games. The team’s main account, @SFGiants, tweets out in-game updates and converses with fans on Twitter about the game. The Giants established a separate account, @SFG_Stats, in 2012 to provide die-hard fans with up-to-the-minute statistics.

The engagement on Twitter along with the action on the field is where improvisational skills come into play. For example, last year, whenever pitcher Tim Lincecum approached a high strikeout count, the team engaged fans on Twitter with the hashtag #FreaKKKK, highlighting Lincecum’s nickname and the strikeouts.

“A lot of that comes from being really connected with your fan base and connected to the game and being able to really be, for lack of a better term, an artist,” Srabian said. “You need smart people working in social media, but you also need creative, artistic people, as well, that can kind of adapt and not be afraid to take chances.”

The team updates Facebook sparingly during the game, sticking with big highlights. Instagram acts as a live photo journal, more focused on the atmosphere and the setting rather than the on-field results.

The Giants plan to highlight GIF files via Tumblr as well as Vine videos more this season in order to capture brief but important action during the game.

The photos come from numerous sources. Srabian and his team take some on their own in addition to images from a photography staff. Deciding which platform the photos are best suited for comes down to practice, Srabian said.

“It is part intuition,” he said, “but I think part of it is also the experience that you know what works better.”