Every baseball game has to have two lineups – it’s a rule of the game. Since the advent of social media, teams have been looking at creative ways to inform their fans of that night’s starters, while at the same time working to create interactive content that sponsors want to purchase. I decided to take a look at some of the current MLB lineup posts on Twitter, and see what features they have!
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to look at graphics posted on Twitter only (although some teams do great work on Instagram Stories) and the graphics will be from May 23, 2018 – yesterday.
First, some disclosure – I interviewed for the Marlins’ In-Game Social Media position earlier this month, so I have slightly more knowledge of their game social media than other teams. With that said, the Marlins are amongst the simpliest in MLB when it comes to lineup graphics – simple copy, simple graphic, and a solitary action photo of a player in the lineup that night – sometimes a pitcher, sometimes a player in the lineup, depending on the day and who made the graphic. This is the bare bones version of a lineup graphic, and the most simple – the Marlins have informed you of their lineup, where they are, and how you can listen. Basic, effective, but not very exciting. The Cardinals, Brewers, Rays, Twins, Tigers, Royals, Diamondbacks, Indians and Orioles also follow the same model – however, the Orioles’ graphic features an orang and black two-tone color scheme while the Indians, Brewers, Twins, Rays and Diamondbacks vary their copy without including broadcast information.
The Pirates provide a variation on the basic lineup template by including player information on their graphic – allowing them to combine the lineup infographic with player stats. I like this approach because it goes beyond the basic information found in the majority of the graphics – the basic lineup – and gives fans a reason to seek out the image. Remember, the lineup is available in multiple places – additional insight from the team makes this graphic more valuable to the team’s social media plan – and more valuable to a sponsor.
The Mariners are the only team to take advantage of multiple Twitter images when posting their lineup, creating successive images containing the lineup as well as player statisics and news. It’s very similar to the Pirates’, except for the multiple images. I’m not sure if the Pirates or Mariners’ approch is better from a statistical standpoint, but I prefer the Pirates – having one image in a tweet ensures that that information is seen and spread with one simple action, instead of having to swipe from image to image.
The Dodgers opted to include a text version of their lineup in the copy with their image of the lineup – an approach that was very popular a few years ago but has since become less common. While this is effective because it allows the player names to be searchable – unlike just posting an image – the copy and graphic are very redundant. Look for this style of graphic to be phased out in the next couple of seasons.
The Astros, Athletics and Rangers all use video for their lineups, each with a different style. The Astros are unusual, as they post their lineup twice – first, a photo of their actual written out lineup card with the copy containing the game number (last night’s was #57) and then posting the lineup graphic later, complete with bespoke hashtag and broadcast information. The Rangers use a GIF with copy to fit and also include their MLB game preview, a nice way to include comprehensive information. The A’s use an easily editable piece of content that looks clean and displays well on mobile. Video is a very effective way to show their lineup with strong branding overtones for all three of these teams.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have one of the most complex designs in MLB this year, and utilize a video taken at media day as part of their GIF – a well thought out, unique lineup graphic that is both simple and engaging.
A couple of notes – first, this is not an all-encompassing list, as these are just a few of the different lineups that are posted online on any given MLB gameday. Another note is one of surprise – I’m SHOCKED that more of these lineups are not sponsored. In minor league sports, particularly baseball, lineup sponsorships are usually a pretty easy sell, and yet we don’t see many sponsorship logos here. Also, note the finish of all the graphics as well as the Yankees’ post – all of these pieces were meticulously planned and executed in the offseasons FIRST, before the season started, and then were executed for the season, showing the necessity of proper planning in social. Finally, a preference of mine – I prefer when teams list the player, their uniform number, and position on their graphic, rather than just their position. I personally feel it’s more complete than skipping uniform numbers, but that’s a personal preference.
The other issue to consider – and perhaps the biggest issue – is which post performs the best on social media. Obviously there are lots of factors to consider – follower size, paid vs. organic, etc – but I would bet that follower count plays a larger role in lineup post than regular content due to audience demographics – the people following the team account are more likely to want and share lineup information. It would be very interesting to see the results of lineup posts throughout a season.
Which graphic do you like best? Which one do you think needs work? Leave a comment or shoot me a Tweet!
Chris Knoblock is currently a sports communications free agent and is available to sign with your social media department for very reasonable terms. Follow him on Twitter at @cknoblock17 for dog photos and sports commentary.