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Rollin’ Social Media Strikes With the Sox

Yesterday, at the Lucky Strike Lanes in Boston, nearly the entire Red Sox baseball club gathered to do what the Red Sox have done for more than half a century, since Ted Williams founded The Jimmy Fund: raise money for sick kids. They always succeed in getting lots of cash, but this time around, thanks to social media, they also got the kids a heap of moral support in the form of Instagram posts and tweets offering hope and encouragement. In fact, as of this writing, the #HopeBowl hashtag was cited in 262 Instagram posts relating to the Buchholz Foundation’s initiative, serving 642,022 impressions; it also was mentioned in 1,189 tweets, which translated to 12,794,833 impressions. (ED: These numbers were updated on August 4, 2014.)

This was the first #HopeBowl campaign, the brainchild of SapientNitro, whose creative staff spotted an opportunity to connect with Sox fans past, present, and perhaps future that was as juicy as a hanging curve ball. The event was promoted in concert with Binkeez for Comfort, an organization that delivers blankets and other comfort items to seriously ill children.

SapientNitro CMO Bill Kanarick said the campaign was a synergistic thing, combining an involved fan base with a popular charity and mixing in social media’s penchant for getting people to insert themselves personally—all for the good of the kids.

“I think people are fundamentally proponents of self-expression,” Kanarick says. “If people associate with content, they like to insert themselves into the story. But if the content is truly powerful, there is significant opportunity to amplify the brand involved. Being a baseball fan is all about hope, so there was truly a powerful connection here.”

“We were able to leverage Red Sox Nation’s global, passionate, and digitally engaged fans to create strong, virtual communities who contributed to each campaign’s respective call-to-action,” says Nathanial Perez, global head of social media at SapientNitro. “How can your brand be part of or even spark a new conversation? It is important to leverage social channels as an opportunity to tap into contextual situations, creating a conversation with the right message, at the right time and place.”

Perez offers six do’s and don’ts for brands looking to connect powerfully with customers via social media:

  1. Share stories, don’t tell stories.
  2. Connect with a purpose. Brand fans want to believe in something.
  3. Know your fans and your superfans.
  4. Be a host, not an emcee.
  5. Act like a human brand.
  6. Treat every connection as if it’s personal, because it is.
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