The Pittsburgh Pirates have nearly tripled their social media presence in 16 months.

Social Media Night: Pittsburgh Pirates Gaining on Lady Gaga

Tonight at PNC Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to push the envelope of social media with another Social Media Night.  We’ve been very critical of the Bucs efforts over the years in their outreach to the fans.  Sixteen months later, the team has placed their foot firmly on the right pedal, and it’s easy to see just how serious the team is about the subject now.

We created a crazy post looking at the most successful user of social media – Lady Gaga – and tried to compare her efforts to those of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Here is what we came up with, based on social media stats from December 2010 and then again in our follow up post on July 18, 2011.

Social Media works. On July 18, 2011 Gaga had 7,232,969 followers. She now has over 23 million.  She had 24,000,000 million Facebook fans last July, and – since Facebook isn’t cool any longer – we didn’t bother checking her total today.  We can pretty safely bet it’s a lot.  Her fans adore her. Many of them  (like me) don’t even care about her music – we just want to follow her persona, her marketing machine, because it’s a fun thing to do. It’s genius. It’s entertaining.

She is the Monster Mama.

In December of 2010, Pirates closer  Joel Hanrahan had nearly 4,000 followers. He gets it. He is entertaining. Hanrahan had 20,229 last July.  He now has over 33,000.

Pittsburgh Pirates blogger Raise The Jolly Roger had nearly 1,000 followers in December of 2010. He now has over 3,600.  He gets it. He is entertaining.    

Yet, somehow, by December of 2010, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball still hadn’t quite figured it out. MLB had just over a million followers.  It still hasn’t grown a great deal; as of this afternoon the MLB Twitter account had over 1.9 million followers.

In December of 2010, the Pirates Baseball Club cracked 3,000 followers on one account, and their more active ‘Bucs Insider’ account had about 5,500 followers.  By July the BucsInsider account tripled to over 15,000.

Some pathetic numbers, right?  It’s amazing how quickly social media has passed Major League Baseball by. We said it wasn’t too late for MLB to catch up, and they’re doing so.  The ‘MLB Fan Cave’ garners the most attention on their account.

This year, the Pirates scrapped the two-twitter-account approach, and now has just one account.  It had 42,208 followers this afternoon.  Quite a nice jump in followers.

The most difficult thing about social media is measuring the return on the investment.  The Bucs are spending some cash to make the investment grow the Pittsburgh Pirates brand through social media.  It would be interesting to learn how the Bucs are measuring success (every business on the planet is trying to do the same thing), and we have to believe the Pirates have some cool stories that they discuss in their meetings.

We think tonight is another one.

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