Why Every Network Must Be Major League in the Future

By Rachel Keller Brown and Travis H. Brown

Recent dealings with sports celebrities and major league greats like Cardinals legend Bob Gibson can remind us the important role that we all can play in our own social networks.  Long after his 1981 Hall of Fame induction, a St. Louis Cardinal like Bob Gibson can remain an important civic figure off the field: as a coach, mentor, role model, and inspiration. 

In the context of baseball, these titans of roundball help us place value on the sport’s accomplishment, talent, and tenacity.  Off the mound, the role of celebrity can be leveraged in many ways:  raising money for charity, giving voice to important causes, volunteering your time for awareness, and building unique relationships across many walks of life.

Rachel Keller Brown, Pelopidas, with Bob Gibson (July 2009 All Star Weekend)

Rachel Keller Brown, Pelopidas, with Bob Gibson (July 2009 All Star Weekend)

Celebrity brands offer punch and potency inside a sea of public noise and media clutter.  So, as consumers take control of their own media channels one iphone or blackberry at a time, it’s not a surprise that those that lobby from a known industry reputation will fare much better than those who remain in cyber-silence.

This week’s Wall Street Journal story shows us more about how consumer movements may occur.  Major League Baseball is bringing live baseball as an iphone application.  First, you merge the influence and flexibility of the mobile device platform that has great picture and video capability.  Second, you target a demographic market and loyal fan audience that buys direct from their ultimate network:  their entire league (already at 400,000 subscribers at MLB.TV).  Third, once you prove that live streaming is more valuable than local television broadcast, it’s game time for all venues, not just out-of-market events. 

One can only imagine how exciting it may be in the future when individual URLs load up a creative celebrity encounter, clock their own radar during the next fast-pitch, or videocast to their grandmother the latest score.  New technologies like these don’t have to be feared by personalities of interest.  We believe that, with integrated marketing and media strategies, access to these tools may make your star power even more entertaining. 

Imagine the potential value of real-time brand metrics via mobile devices when President Obama unveiled his White Sox uniform before the Cardinals All-Star crowd.  In the not-so-distant future, the President may want to text you back a personal message in the grand stands, like, “It could be worse.  It could have been a Chicago Cubs jersey.”  Real-time responses related to your market reactions might be used to fellow Cubs fans to find others in the stadium, and for local vendors to peddle Chicago-styled merchandise.

If you question the value of your network’s ability to respond, engage, & expand under these new consumer rules, maybe it’s time to upgrade your tools to become Major League.