I was not an early adopter in terms of social media. Yes, I had a MySpace page fairly early on, but I avoided Facebook for a long time and held a general disdain for Twitter that only abated when I realized that signing up would be the best way to get breaking information on the imminent Carlos Zambrano trade.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m very active on Twitter, both as a source of info and camaraderie and because much of Cubs Insider’s readership is driven by various forms of social media. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or one of a handful of sports sites that carry our RSS feed, these engagements are the lifeblood of our site and many others.
When it comes to the team we cover here, I think they may have shared my trepidation in really getting active online. I recall some shared laments from the not-too-distant past regarding the Cubs’ general lack of engagement and enthusiasm on Twitter, particularly compared to the personality shown by some of the MiLB affiliates.
But I’m not alone in seeing that the product on the field isn’t all that has improved for the Cubs this season; the team’s Twitter account has been a great source of information, humor, and, yes, fan interaction. Until recently, though, my observations were totally subjective, based only upon what I was seeing from my own limited frame of reference.
Enter Sean Dolinar of FanGraphs and his excellent research into MLB Twitter engagement. I admit that I missed his initial post on the topic, but his piece on the month of May caught my eye since the Cubs were sitting way up at the top of the graph (see below).
What’s truly impressive about the team’s interaction here isn’t the sheer volume of engagements, but how they’re broken down. For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, Retweets and Favorites are often passive actions; basically, they’re just “liking” a post or sending it out to anyone who follows you. In other words, there may be very little effort involved.
With only 130 instances (4.7%), Retweets comprised the smallest portion of the Cubs’ engagements. Favorites were significantly more common, but still numbered only 720 (25.9%). That means that a large majority of the interaction from the team’s account came in the form of replies to tweets from players, fans, and other teams.
Not only did the Cubs’ 1,939 replies comprise nearly 70% of their engagement, they outnumbered all but the Seattle Mariners in terms total engagement. For what it’s worth, the Cubs had 174 times the interaction of the Cardinals and Yankees combined, though I’m sure there are innumerable meat-head comments about winners not needing to tweet that could be made in response.
In any case, none of this is significant to the performance of the team in any way, but I do think it’s a great way related to fans. At a time when baseball is attempting to do all it can to capture the attention of the next generation, the Cubs appear to be quite adept at finding ways to do so.
I continue to be impressed by both the quantity and quality of the product the Cubs are providing on Twitter and I believe other teams would be smart to take note and follow suit. I’ve not always been kind to the marketing and business arms of the team, but this is one area in which their efforts have been impeccable.
Keep up the good work, @Cubs.