Main League Baseball makes its pitch to Gen Z on TikTok
After the least-respected World Series in history, Major League Baseball is hoping to attract a younger generation of viewers by increasing its presence on TikTok. Scotts signed up as the first sponsor of the MLB TikTok channel. The league has also just launched Game Stories on Google. What’s the story behind the league’s new social media game? MLB Marketing Manager Barbara McHugh explains.
For Major League Baseball fans, Thursday (April 1st) opening day can’t come early enough. However, the number of people in this eager audience, whose members averaged 57 years old, has steadily declined. Despite a slight surge in viewership when the game resumed last year, interest in the World Series fell to record lows.
To attract more Gen Z fans to “America’s Favorite Past”, MLB and its advertisers are competing with a range of social media content aimed at TikTok and Google users.
Scotts, a leading provider of lawn care products, has signed up for its TikTok channel as the first MLB sponsor. The brand created an opening day challenge with Freddie Freeman, the first Atlanta Braves baseman, alongside his father and son.
The video with three generations of Freemans urges fans to film themselves “by telling us it’s opening week in the yard – without telling us it’s opening week in the yard.” Users are prompted to add “#openingweekintheyard” and tag @scotts_lawn in their subtitles. The action will be broadcast on Instagram to encourage fans to take on the TikTok challenge.
The TikTok example shows how MLB – and its advertisers in a broader sense – meet Gen Z audiences where they are. The aim is to present a star player, but not just as a celebrated athlete. MLB and Scotts show a different side to Freeman when he performs with his family. It is an attempt to create an emotional connection with the viewer that encourages deeper engagement.
For Scotts, the video is reminiscent of the green grasses of any MLB ballpark. “We know Scotts wants to reach a young audience and cannot do it alone,” said Barbara McHugh, senior vice president of marketing at MLB. “In this sense, [it’s] An organic opportunity to work with us through the lens of baseball. “
Game Stories’ major league debut on Google
This season the MLB also published “Game Stories” on Google. It’s a new video-based storytelling platform that is similar to Instagram stories and can be accessed directly from Google search.
With Game Stories, partners can also use short-form motifs. MLB typically targets a partner towards relevant content that makes the most sense based on their product or service.
A number of different partners have signed up, including T-Mobile, Geico, Bank of America, Chevrolet, The Hartford and Mastercard. Everyone is branded in the stories through branding and short video.
“Connecting with our partners – to bring that experience and those emotions and connect in that authentic way – is what they really love to do,” says McHugh.
Dedicated Gen Z content capturers in the stadium
Content Capture is a huge part of the Gen Z-focused effort. The league has a staff member at each of its 30 stadiums whose sole purpose is to photograph and record live video from various camera angles and angles that was not recorded on television.
The goal is to capture the raw emotions of what is happening during the game. It is the out that is called and the pitcher’s reaction. The glory of the home run. A bottom-of-the-nine scenario.
“We have seen some great achievements in terms of engagement counts when this content is posted on our social platforms as well as in the clubs or players who use it,” says McHugh, adding that MLB is on Twitter and Instagram Tending to see a double digit increase in engagement compared to normal highlights.
MLB also has more personal content that highlights players in their street clothes before they hit the field to show off their personalities and give fans a closer look at who they are as people.
McHugh emphasized player marketing as a means of connecting younger populations. “We know that as much as people follow brands and teams or us as a league, it’s really the athletes who are the most interesting,” she says.
Because of this, MLB is expanding its player social program, which has gained significant momentum in 2020. The league works with its players – over 1,000 currently, including minor league baseball – providing them with assets, photos, graphics and other original content that they can push through their own social platforms.
With the ballpark experience still banned, it is the content that gives fans unforgettable moments to keep and share.
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