The Diamondbacks game against the San Francisco Giants on May 12th may as well have been redefined as Ryan Roberts appreciation day. The first 20,000 fans entering the gates prior to the game received a Ryan Roberts Tattoo Sleeve courtesy of Sanderson Ford.
Roberts who earned the nickname “Tatman” last season while playing for the Diamondbacks has quickly become a fan favorite partly because of his success on the field but more importantly because of his gritty blue-collar attitude that helped define the D-backs in their assentation to the 2011 National League Western Division Championship. Today’s game was not just about a fun giveaway though. The Diamondbacks also tied into Tatman’s popularity by featuring him at the team’s second annual “Tweetup”.
For those of you unaware of what exactly a “Tweetup” is rest assured you are not alone. It is a relatively new term that refers to a meet-up of individuals who use Twitter and other social networking sites.
Social media is changing the landscape of communications and is making its mark in redefining the boundaries between businesses and customers or in this case between a team and its fans. Last season the Diamondbacks held their first “Tweetup” which featured several members of the local media along with representatives from the team and even a couple of bloggers. The discussion focused on how social media was changing sports.
The “Tweetup” was well received and as a result the Diamondbacks decided to hold another event this year. Rather than a roundtable forum, this year’s focus was on getting to know one of the Diamondbacks players and how he is using social media and in particular Twitter.
The player chosen was third baseman Ryan Roberts who took time away from his pre-game warm-ups to visit the diamond level of Chase Field where approximately 100 fans had gathered to hear him speak and answer questions.
Participants in the “Tweetup” were provided limited edition “Tatman” T-shirts and were entered into drawings for prizes such as autographed baseballs and Ryan Roberts bobble heads.
The event started with Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall along with Fox Sports Arizona personality Jody Jackson talking to the crowd about how they use social media to better connect with their fans and customers.
It was interesting to hear them both talk about how different their jobs have become as a result of the interaction with fans on a daily basis. In some cases the interaction can consume them and dilute their message but on the other hand it has enhanced their ability to maintain a connection with their customers in ways never available using traditional media.
After a brief discussion followed by a video interview by the MLB television network about Roberts, “Tatman” came up and spoke to the crowd. For those who have never had the opportunity to meet Roberts he can best be described as down-to-earth and genuinely grateful for the opportunities he has been given here in Arizona.
His personality is direct contradictions to the cliché assumption people have of professional athletes. Roberts acts like many of us might if we woke up and realized we were living the dream we have had since we were children.
The question and answer session seemed to fly by and soon Roberts had to leave to get back to the field to get ready for the game. Taking his place on the podium was Hall, Jackson, and Diamondbacks Senior Vice President of Communications Josh Rawitch.
Rawitch was especially interesting as he described how the Diamondbacks monitor their brand via social media and the challenges they have of managing player relations in this new environment.
After the presentations participants were taken to the Arizona Baseball Club restaurant for a mixer to mingle and meet with others on social media. The Diamondbacks held raffles for several prizes including autographed baseballs.
The baseballs were a nice touch. They were autographed by Diamondbacks players who are on social media. They signed the balls but also put their Twitter handles on them as well making them very unique.
Needless to say my lack of luck when it comes to raffles continued and I didn’t win anything. I guess my secret prayer to the baseball gods to hear my number called on the JUS10UP10 ball went unheard but so did my prayer for a victory over the Giants and Matt Cain so I am not sure I am currently in tune with the baseball deities.
Overall the event was successful and I was able to meet several people at the event that I talk to via Twitter but had never met in person. The mood of the crowd was quite positive with the only complaints I heard being around the mixer where there didn’t seem to be enough seats or staff to handle an influx of that many people at the Arizona Baseball Club.
Hopefully the turnout was sufficient and the comments positive enough that the Diamondbacks will hold a third annual “Tweetup” next season. If not I can at least say I survived the first two and made a few new friends in social media.