What Baseball Can Teach Us About Social Media and Marketing


Major League Baseball’s playoffs are in full swing right now. Despite what it may seem like, there are many lessons that businesses can learn from America’s Pastime. According to Boston University, business intelligence is critical in gaining a competitive advantage in any industry, and the use of data and analytics is essential to growing this intelligence. Baseball is incredibly statistics heavy, probably more than any other major sport.

The adoption of data and analytics in baseball made quite an impact on the sports industry, and “Moneyball,” a film about statistics in baseball, was not only a critical and commercial success, but is recognized as an influence on the rest of the business world as well.

Home Runs Aren’t as Important as On-Base Percentage

One of the key fundamentals of sabermetrics is discovering what statistics are actually important to a team’s success. Many times, these are not the flashiest statistics, but ones that put a team in a better position to win. Home Runs are actually rarely good measuring stick for a baseball team’s success. Instead, on-base percentage is a much stronger statistic for this.

Social metrics are the same way. A golden piece of content that gets a high volume of shares is awesome, but it doesn’t do much for your furthered success. Instead, it’s much better to have consistently good content. One piece of golden content may temporarily bring you a large audience, but will not do much to bring people back in the future. It is better to have a smaller amount of routine traffic that actually engages with your content than a massive amount of visitors that forget about you immediately after, and never return.

Instead of swinging for the fences every time you put out content, frequently put out solid, helpful pieces. As Hubspot covered earlier this year, a higher volume of published content leads to more leads. You want more runners on base because it gives you more opportunities to score.

You Don’t Need to Spend Big on Free Agents

Baseball has the most inflated player salaries of any major sport. Teams go on huge spending sprees for free agent players, and without a salary cap, there is a massive disparity between what different teams have the ability to spend on players. Despite this, however, teams from many different spending levels are successful each year. The playoffs this year feature the team with the highest salary, The Los Angeles Dodgers at $ 272,789,040 all the way down to the second lowest salary, the Houston Astros at $ 68,479,000, a fourth of what the Dodgers spent this year.

Similarly, the money spent on social media and marketing efforts will not be as effective as possible just by throwing money at them. You need to be smart about where your money goes, and be willing to make adjustments based on results. Your competitors may have a larger budget than you, but that doesn’t mean they automatically win. The baseball teams with small budgets that are successful usually are able to do so by cultivating and developing young and inexpensive talent.

A business can replicate this idea by trying out new tactics and finding and developing new tactics that their larger competitors will ignore because they are too set in their ways. They will spend a large amount of money on free agents that have been highly successful in the past, but might have already seen their best days.

Try a Player at a New Position

In “Moneyball,” mega-celebrity Chris Pratt plays major leaguer, Scott Hatteberg. Hatteberg played catcher throughout his career, but could no longer make the throws necessary because of a ruptured nerve in his elbow. Billy Beane saw potential in Hatteberg, however, because of his high on-base percentage, and decided to convert him into a first baseman.

This kind of flexibility and adapting to your circumstances is an important quality for businesses to possess. According to The Washington State University Carson College of Business, one of the highest value ways for businesses to utilize data is by searching for and identifying new opportunities. Beane saw a new opportunity in Hatteberg and capitalized on it. You should look at your own social media and marketing campaigns the same way. If one of your tactics is not bringing the returns you hoped for, try looking at your data in new ways to identify where failures and shortages are coming from.

You will likely identify information about your campaign targets that will help you find new tactics. Just like Beane did with Hatteberg, by looking at efforts that you believe are past their usability, you will likely be able to find new effective uses for them. A content strategy might not work for its original target anymore, but there is likely a target that the strategy would work for. Identifying these instances not only revives the strategy, but could also bring a new demographic to your business.

Social Media Week