The defending World Series champions San Francisco Giants are busy installing a digital signage-centric social media center in their home ballpark, AT&T Park on the San Francisco Bay.
According to the Giants, last year AT&T Park led all sports venues in social check-ins and Instagram photos, and the hashtag #SFGiants was the top sports-themed hashtag on Twitter. Responding to both the fans' and the team's desire to connect via social media, the new social media center is scheduled to open this summer inside the former Build-A-Bear store located above center field. "It will be a place for fans to gather and participate in real time social chatter with other fans both in the ballpark and around the world," the team said in a recent announcement.
San Jose-Calif.-based Array Interactive Inc., a digital signage agency focused on delivering brand and audience-relevant digital signage experiences, was picked by the team to design, develop and deliver the new social media, digital signage experience for the Giants. The installation is designed specifically for fans attending games at the park, and will showcase custom content and applications integrated with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to incite social conversation, connection and participation among the sports world's most active social communities.
"We are designing a social visualization experience that is exclusive to the San Francisco Giants brand and characteristic of a World Champion," said Jeff Dumo, partner at Array Interactive, in an announcement of the project. "The San Francisco Giants have a storied legacy on and off the field, delivering a unique game time experience for its fans as well as supporting social endeavors in the community. This digital signage experience is yet another extension of their brand, delivering an experience that is built for their fans and ultimately by their fans. After all, primary content delivered to screen will be coming directly from social participants from around the globe."
In a recent interview with DigitalSignageToday.com, Dumo described the social media and digital signage integration to be deployed in the new center. AT&T Park already has a variety of activities for fans to engage in during games, and the team has been calling the social media center its "new ride," he said.
"They're already one of the top five brands in the social space ... and they felt like this was an important and interesting way to engage the modern fan," Dumo said. "And the way the information will be presented is more than just a Twitter board or a scroll of Facebook conversations, but is intended to incite people to interact with the organization in a way that makes them feel like they are a part of the team experience."
In addition to a Peet's Coffee & Tea shop, the social media center will feature a three-by-two digital signage video wall as its centerpiece, displaying various graphics that represent real-time social engagements with the team, for instance if a person in Italy is posting something about Giants infielder Marco Scutaro, or the total number of fans tweeting about the giants game right then.
The new center is intended to be part of the team's efforts to become more of a national and global brand, along the lines of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Giants' historic rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Jon Swartz of USA Today:
"We're in many businesses — baseball, which is No. 1, content, technology, customer-service, community and entertainment," Giants CEO Larry Baer told USA Today. "And we have to be good at all of them to succeed."
Swartz's USA Today piece further explored the importance of social media and fan engagement to the team:
"The Giants are at or near the leading edge," says Vince Gennaro, author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball and a consultant to Major League Baseball teams, including the Cleveland Indians. "Technology gives teams a deep level of knowledge about fans and their players. It's really applicable to most industries."
"The formula is simple: Enhance the fan experience, improve the team's performance and propel the business forward," says Giants Chief Information Officer Bill Schlough, the first CIO hired by a professional sports team in April 1999, when he joined the Giants.
The social media-centered digital signage also will incorporate revenue-generating sponsorship opportunities for the team, Dumo said. And this kind of social media and digital signage branding is something he's seeing more companies do, be it retailers in-store or corporations in their corporate headquarters.
"I think this is just indicative of where sports and entertainment is going ... but it cuts across industries, anywhere there's a more significant marketing spend, a brand wants to get a pulse of their audience is saying about the brand and how they can influence that conversation," he said. "I think there are some interesting plays in how you leverage that social data to better inform or more relevantly connect with an audience ... I think brands see a huge opportunity for them to better engage audiences where they are around the world."
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Christopher is the editor of DigitalSignageToday.com. A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.