It’s no secret that celebrities and athletes use social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to interact with their fans. But with all the noise on these platforms, it’s not always the easiest to engage on a deeper level. At least that’s what MLB players think.
The app is essentially a custom social network just for players and their fans.
Just like other social networks each person has their own profile and can post pictures, videos, etc. You can follow your favorite players (who are verified) and comment on their posts, and they can reply back.
There are also some more unique features – like Q&A sessions and contests to win player memorabilia and unique experiences with players. It’s also very much baseball themed – instead of “likes” you can give a “fist bump” to each post.
The best part? Over 1,000 MLB players are already onboard as registered users. This means there’s already tons of content for fans to start engaging with from day one.
Typically when apps like this are created they suffer from a major chicken and egg problem – fans won’t join until there are a bunch of players to engage with, and no player wants to take the time to sign up for an unheard of app that may never take off. That’s why it’s such a big deal that this was created by the players themselves. Since the app is being deployed by the MLBPA, literally every player in the league has an interest (both professionally, and potentially financially) in seeing that this takes off.
The MLBPA says that the app was built at the request of the players themselves, who wanted a more personal way to interact with fans, and presumably develop their personal brand in the process. While platforms like Twitter and Instagram certainly have a wide reach, most of us follow so many people it’s easy to miss the content we actually want to see.
So while a player may have a million followers, it’s likely that those fans also follow hundreds of other celebrity accounts in industries like news, entertainment – or just athletes playing other sports like football and basketball. With Infield Chatter fans get their own space just to focus on baseball.
“Other social media serve their purpose, and that’s fine. But there is a lot of crazy activity on some of those sites, and they’re not always the safest places to post personal stuff. There hasn’t been a good spot for baseball fans to gather, until now. I think this is one of the best programs that the players have agreed to work on together.” – Rajai Davis, Outfielder, Oakland A’s
So far, it seems like other players agree – most of the content posted by players so far is much more informal than something they’d put on other platforms. For example, you may scroll through your feed and see a blurry behind the scenes locker room shot from your favorite player. In my opinion, this is much cooler than any professional photo a player would post on their Facebook. Players have also been commenting and replying to fans, which is definitely a neat thing that doesn’t happen as much on other platforms.
The app was built in tandem with a startup called Honeycommb, which helps build social communities for groups of fans. They most recently build a custom app for Lady Gaga to interact with her fans on a more personal level than that allowed by other social networks like Twitter.
As of now there’s no plan to generate revenue, but the association won’t totally rule it out. Advertisers would likely find a platform with such dedicated fans pretty enticing, meaning if enough fans join there could be some serious advertising opportunities for the MLBPA.