- The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has launched a mobile social community called Infield Chatter, according to a press release. It’s available via an app that can be downloaded at the Apple App Store and Google Play.
- More than 1,000 baseball players have signed on as registered users. They will share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and participate in regular video chats during which Infield Chatter users can lob questions at them. The players will also open up about their lives off the field in posts about hobbies, interests and personal stories. In addition, Infield Chatter will throw contests to give users chances to win player-hosted experiences, autographed products and other items.
- Honeycommb hosts Infield Chatter on its social platform, and Lineage Interactive is the community's content partner.
Companies have found it challenging to wrangle consumers away from the large social media networks where they are accustomed to sharing and communicating to alternative platforms for brand-specific communities. The advantages of such communities are multifold: marketers can interact with their audiences regularly to lift awareness and sales, test and build ancillary brands (in the case of MLBPA, the players themselves) and revenues streams, and collect valuable consumer data. But the investment and time spent in erecting these communicaties can make the endeavors massive drains if they don’t get off the ground. However, the MLBPA does have a leg up because it draws upon the existing fans of players who might be compelled to add another app to their phones with the promise of access they can’t get elsewhere.
MLBPA has a great deal of incentive to make Infield Chatter viable. Major League Baseball is suffering from an age crisis that affects the long-term financial prospects of its business. Last year, Adweek reported the MLB has the oldest median age for television viewership among the major sports at 56-years-old. In contrast, the NFL’s is 49-years-old and the NBA’s is 41-years-old. MLB has been dabbling in social media — it’s partnered with Snapchat, for example — to reach out to and engage young audiences. MLBPA is taking that social outreach into its own hands with Infield Chatter, which could potentially undermine the MLB’s initiatives to create social media buzz around its properties.
There’s a big upside for players to craft their personal brands beyond the purview of their teams and MLB. They can directly amass fan bases not tied to organizations they don’t control, learn about what’s appealing to those fan bases and float business ventures that might not be appropriate within the bounds of their regular work routines.