I just finished my second year working in Minor League Baseball for the Columbia Fireflies. In these first two years, I have already crossed my two main goals off the list: 1) Open a brand-new ballpark (which happened in 2016) and 2) Host the All-Star Game (which happened in 2017). Those two are great, but this year, I was also given an unexpected bonus opportunity: to document the most famous Minor League Baseball player since Michael Jordan—Tim Tebow. I’ll share the top three lessons I learned while managing social media for the Columbia Fireflies, or as some people know it, “Tim Tebow’s baseball team”:
1. No matter how much you prepare, you won’t be ready.
When I caught wind that Tim Tebow may start the 2017 baseball season as a Columbia Firefly, I wanted to do everything in my power to be as prepared as possible. Tebow was assigned to us on March 20, and in prep for the announcement, I reached out to the former public relations director of the Birmingham Barons, the team for which Michael Jordan played in 1994.
I started the phone call with something like, “So we have the chance of landing a famous Heisman trophy winner. As someone who dealt with a high-profile multi-sport athlete, what do I do?” He told me story upon story and I quickly realized there was one huge discrepancy between his situation and mine.
Yes, the 1994 Barons acquired a much more decorated athlete than we were about to add, but what they didn’t have was social media. All the autograph hounds, outspoken critics, and worthy non-profits he was referencing in his stories were about to infiltrate our inbox and Twitter mentions in less than two weeks.
After that phone call, I immediately met with our President and Vice President of Marketing to talk about strategy in every situation on social media. If you have a huge event or change approaching and don’t think you’re prepared, you’re probably right and that’s OK. Do your best to think of every possible situation and communicate with other people on your team.
2. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But have other drinks available as well.
In the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” let’s pretend Tebow is the lemons and lemonade is Tebow-related social media content. We would be silly to not utilize a photo of Tim in various social media posts, Snapchat his at-bats, or Facebook Live his press conferences.
In Minor League Baseball, we’re lucky if our fans know any of our players, let alone are already fans of his work on and off the field. I wanted to use him in every single post. I really did.
But, beside that not being good business practice, a contingent of our fan base (some of whom are season ticket members) were not particularly fans of Tebow and his supposed “media stunt” of playing baseball. While Tebow provided lemonade, I served other drinks from time to time—posts of our other players, our promotions, theme nights, and more, but you’re crazy if you don’t think my favorite one to serve was the lemonade.
3. “I don’t care what brought you here. My job is to make you stay.”
This was our unofficial front office motto for 2017. There’s no doubt that Tebow was one of many reasons our attendance was 21% higher than our Inaugural Season in 2016. No doubt he helped increase our Facebook likes by 60% since February and our Twitter and Instagram followers 80% each.
I honestly don’t care if you followed @ColaFireflies just to maybe catch a glimpse of Tim Tebow’s biceps, my job was to keep you once he was gone.
Tim Tebow is (probably) never going to put a Fireflies uniform on again. My job now that you didn’t consciously unfollow us upon Tebow’s departure is to consistently push quality content to make you stay. Again, you’re crazy if I don’t surprise you with some lemonade, but most of it needs to be thoughtful, non-Tebow related content.
If you don’t think you’re ready for a big event, the chances are high that you’re not. But prepare as much as you can and be on your toes. If you’re put in a situation where you can utilize one person, event, or other unique scenario to earn social media engagements, do so. But sprinkle in other content as well. When that “one big thing” passes, prepare quality content to follow it.
It doesn’t matter if you work in Minor League Baseball, the local church, or someplace else entirely. We are all presented with unique opportunities from time to time and we have to make the most of them.
Kyle is the New Media Engagement and Promotions Manager for the Columbia Fireflies, a Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Kyl3Martin.