Thursday is Social Media Day 2011 around the globe, and that goes for all of Major League Baseball as well. As fans cast their final votes on the 2011 All-Star Game Ballot Sponsored by Sprint, MLB.com and all 30 club sites will celebrate fan loyalties to their favorite teams by delivering a wide array of digital initiatives to reward fans during a record-smashing voting campaign.
Fans "liking" their favorite team's official Facebook page on or before Thursday will be able to enter into a special Social Media Day All-Star Sweepstakes to win a customized 2011 All-Star Game jersey. In addition, one grand prize winner will be drawn from all eligible entrants and receive four tickets to the 82nd All-Star Game on July 12 in Phoenix. Fans also will be prompted to vote after entering the sweepstakes -- to help make a final push.
Balloting closes at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, and entering this week fans already had cast 18.5 million ballots and 250 million votes, surpassing the all-time online record for each from 2009 (17.7 million; 223.4 million). Fans are also encouraged to share their All-Star selections via the share buttons at the end of the ballot.
The 18 clubs playing games on Social Media Day each will have a specially designated All-Star Game-themed hashtag for fans to use in hashtag battles on Twitter. MLB.com will track the results throughout the day, providing regular updates from club Twitter accounts (ie @Angels, @Astros) and @MLB on which fan base is best representing its club in the hashtag competition. Fans also can get an exclusive discount to the winning team's online shop.
Each club, as well as @MLB, will post a memorable photo on its official site and allow fans to submit their own personal captions, which automatically will be tweeted to their friends and followers. The best captions will be retweeted by the club's official Twitter account and one tweet will be posted by @MLB to its 1.3 million followers.
Fans attending one of the nine scheduled games on Social Media Day can utilize the check-in feature within the best-selling MLB.com At Bat 11 app, to win a free team-specific "checked-in" T-shirt. All nine home ballparks will have shirts to distribute to the first 100 fans to check-in via At Bat 11 on iPhone, iPod touch or Android devices at the park. Through At Bat 11, fans additionally will be able to view interactive ballpark maps, post and track messages on Twitter, get expanded video highlights and more.
"I was very unsure about social media at first," Brewers closer John Axford said. "I waited until the offseason to give it a go and give Twitter a shot, and I loved it right away. It was fun to interact with fans. I think that's what I liked best about it, that fans can just talk to me, ask me question and I can respond to them. I think it's just good that fans get to see a different side of players, especially when they are being able to interact with them personally, on Twitter.
"On Facebook, they get to pick up info earlier than maybe they would have before. So if they're following somebody on Facebook or on Twitter, they get to know about ticket prices, or they get to know about something fun that a team is doing, I think social media is doing a great job so far for fans, and for teams and players."
Social Media Day was created in 2010 by Mashable.com as "a day to celebrate media becoming social." The second annual global event is a celebration of the technological advancements that enable everyone to connect with real-time information, communicate from miles apart and have their voices be heard. People around the world will be using the #SMDay hashtag, and you might want to include that on your own tweets as well to keep baseball within the global dialogue and invite others to see what's going on within MLB social media.
Fittingly, the MLB Fan Cave will mark Social Media Day by passing the mid-way point of the regular season, with 1,215 games watched by MLB Dream Job winner Mike O'Hara and his wingman Ryan Wagner, who "only" have 1,215 games -- plus the postseason -- to go at their 15,000 square foot Manhattan "office."
The MLB Fan Cave is a fan engagement platform centered around shareable online content and fan interaction with O'Hara and Wagner via Facebook and Twitter. O'Hara (@mikeyoh21), Wagner (@rwags614) and the Fan Cave itself (@MLBFanCave) combined have sent more than 7,000 tweets since Opening Day and written more than 160 blog posts, while visits by more than 90 celebrities and MLB players past and present have resulted in more than 150 videos on MLBFanCave.com, which have also been distributed through social media and other digital channels.