This guest post is from Jeremy Epstein, VP of Marketing and Social Navigator at Sprinklr. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

marianoBaseball fans know Mariano Rivera as perhaps the greatest relief pitcher of all-time.

This year marks his final season and, like many greats before him, he is doing a farewell tour.

What differentiates this tour from all of the others before is how the Yankees have evolved the tour to benefit from the rise of the mobile/social/network-empowered consumer.

Traditionally, a player of Rivera’s magnitude goes out to home plate (or center court, etc.) and there’s a big public ceremony. He gets some gifts, and the fans give him a standing ovation.

Rivera and the Yankees hatched a different plan.

As the NY Times wrote:

Three years ago, when Rivera first considered retirement, he went to Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ director of communications, to discuss how he should commemorate his final year in baseball. This year, in spring training, he and Zillo devised a plan for Rivera to meet with different people in each city, whether team employees or fans.

In Cleveland, for example, Rivera met with some employees of the Indians organization and John Adams, a devoted fan who has been banging his bass drum at Indians games for 40 years, according to the article.

In every single city, Rivera and the Yankees are creating a new story and one that, by definition, is going to be retold. At a minimum, by those 25 employees or whoever else was in the room, but more likely by an entire group of people surrounding the event — including friends, other fans, and online/MSM outlets.

Instead of “Oh, there was yet another big celebration for Rivera, but this time in our city,” it is now, “Rivera connected specifically with our fans, talking about his memories here, and making a new memory for the future.”

Social marketing is best for many little stories

While some say that the “big campaign” is dead, I’d disagree. The campaign is just fine, it’s the activities that make up the campaign that have changed drastically.

Instead of copy/paste marketing activities, social media benefits the most when the tactics are unique and customized to a smaller audience. And, counter-intuitively, those smaller events can (and, as we all get better at this, will) ultimately lead to greater reach, engagement, or whatever marketing objective you have, because of the power of the consumer to talk about them on your behalf.

The larger narrative, let’s celebrate Rivera’s accomplishments, used to be the one consistent theme. What the Yankees are doing now is using that idea as the foundation upon which many small narratives (dedicated fans who try to distract the greatest reliever of all time by banging a drum) are built. Since each one is unique, it gets told more often, reinforcing the core narrative at the same time.


About Jeremy Epstein

Jeremy Epstein is VP/Marketing and Social Navigator at Sprinklr, the world’s leading enterprise Social Media Management System to help large organizations save time, mitigate risk, orchestrate activity, and use social data to grow their business. A committed WOM practitioner, Jeremy previously worked at Microsoft and ran an international community marketing-focused consulting firm.

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  1. Sebastian Wilson

    Nice article!, I think it’s like a “long-tail-word-of-mouth” because they adapted the same story (Rivera’s farewell) to different audiences… very interesting strategy

  2. Javier von Westphalen

    Love this – Social marketing is best for many little stories. It’s a reminder that social marketing is more than a big splash on metrics. It’s a mid and long term strategy for customer trust, relationship, and value.

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