If ever there was an opportunity for individuals and organizations to see the power of social media, it is through the final tallies for Major League Baseball’s All-Star voting. For the longest time, the 2015 MLB All-Star Game (@AllStarGame) appeared set to be the National League vs. the Kansas City Royals. While some K.C. players were certainly more deserving than others, the team is by no means the standard by which All-Stars should be measured, thus leaving a number of deserving players on the outside looking in. The most notable omission – Toronto Blue Jays’ 3B Josh Donaldson – was a travesty that few fans north of the border could handle. Since then, a change of the winds has come, as the Jays’ biggest off-season acquisition has not only been named a starter, but set an All-Star voting record with over 14M votes. And social media has certainly played a role in this impressive rise!
Sure, Donaldson had the luxury of receiving support from some Canadian favourites, including Coach’s Corner’s Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) and Arrow’s Stephen Amell (@amellywood), but that is by no means the whole story. The celebrity support itself needs to gain traction, and for that, social media reigns supreme. Whether you watched it live on Coach’s Corner (thereby seeing that Grapes himself showcased the #VoteBlueJays sign) or caught up online after, Cherry’s support was front page news across social media, quickly trending on news feeds far and wide. It was a similar story for Stephen Amell, who took to Facebook to express his support for Donaldson. It all began with Amell making an impassioned plea to baseball fans to vote for the Blue Jays infielder. This sparked a great deal of traction, including fans submitting pictures of Amell and Donaldson high-fiving for #FanArtFriday and even inducing a spin-off video wherein Amell finally met and posted a video with Donaldson himself. The unexpected campaign has been immensely successful, as Amell’s Facebook wall has since been flooded with post after post for Donaldson, sparking hundreds of thousands of interactions from fans.
Following this up rise in support, the Toronto Blue Jays initiated the #MakeItRain campaign, paying tribute to the Twitter handle of their star third baseman (@BringerOfRain20). Fans were encouraged to show their support via Twitter by including that hashtag in their posts, along with #VoteBringerOfRain, thereby shedding more light on their emerging superstar – and they have done just that! Not only did the campaign succeed online, but it also generated even more creative marketing, as the Blue Jays also distributed ponchos to their fans at recent games, playing on the clever pun that sparked such great returns for the club and their new folk hero. While the upward trend for Donaldson would be a realistic notion even if not for social media, it is safe to say that the active online following has perhaps sped the process up to a record-setting level.
So there you have it. Some impactful online support, some clever social media campaigning, and a whole lot of engaged followers, and the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson went from 1.6M votes behind the Royals’ Mike Moustakas to nearly 2M votes ahead when all was said and done. Social media All-Stars indeed!