White Sox

A Powerful Collision of the Virtual and Physical Worlds

SoxPhoneBannerPost by: @AlanaGolob

Myself and Nate Ludens were just in Chicago this past weekend for the White Sox’s annual SoxFest. My second SoxFest and Digital Royalty’s fourth to attend. During SoxFest thousands of fans get unique access to their favorite players and the entire White Sox organization through seminars, autograph sessions and so on. The challenge each year is how to create an experience online for those fans that don’t have the ability to attend SoxFest. One word? #SoxPhone.

This concept was originally created one special evening when the President of the UFC, Dana White, accidentally tweeted his phone number to his millions of followers on Twitter. The tweet was intended to be a Direct Message (DM). The social media mistake, turned into a social media success, when Digital Royalty introduced the concept of Fan Phone (watch video). The social media stunt was scaled to other fighters within the UFC, and eventually sponsorship opportunities surfaced.

The White Sox first introduced #SoxPhone during spring training last season with a few different players taking fans calls in-between workouts. Based on the success of Spring Training and the positive sentiment from players, we decided to take #SoxPhone to the next level and conducted 11 different #SoxPhones with 11 different players, throughout the weekend at SoxFest.

Here’s a quick look at how #SoxPhone plays out:

  • We created a Google Voice number and synced it to an existing phone number. In this case it was my phone. Side note, big thanks to our Tech Cowboy, TJ Hucka, who came to my rescue a few times when I wasn’t able to deactivate the number once the #SoxPhone was over. Fans will call as long as you keep the line open, so at one point I had about 50 incoming calls on my phone before TJ was able to deactivate it for me. Panic attack.
  • Prior to each #SoxPhone, @WhiteSox sent a tweet that included the custom number, typically including a photo of the particular player who was taking the calls and encouraged fans to give the player a call. The photo makes it real deal for fans.

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  • Each player answered calls as long as they wanted to, typically 5-10 minutes in this case. There was a live twitter feed in the booth, so the players were able to see fans tweet about their call within seconds of hanging up, which was a cool experience for them. Most all players would have continued to take calls far beyond that time allotment if their schedule permitted.
  • Fans typically tweet about their experience after the call and @WhiteSox and players on Twitter actively engaged back.

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  • We took video footage of the calls to post online so others can experience it as well. Virtual storytelling. Here’s a video of pitcher Chris Sale having fun with #SoxPhone.

The fans were stoked, the players had a great time and actually verbally expressed on multiple occasions that they really enjoyed the #SoxPhone. And, I was personally psyched to witness all of the happiness being had in the virtual and physical worlds. It’s a win-win and an equal value exchange for the fans, the players and the White Sox organization. Engagement and sentiment climbed with each round of #SoxPhone and those fans who actually had the opportunity to speak to their favorite player, instantly climbed the fan loyalty ladder and will be fans for life. The White Sox weren’t using #SoxPhone as a sales tool, they were open to experimenting and delivering the golden rule of social media: Value. When, where, and how their audience wanted to receive it.

#SoxPhone wasn’t the only social media stunt or activity happening over the course of #SoxFest, it was one of several concepts that were implemented this year. Others included, Hide & Tweets, Photo Scavenger Hunts, “Guess the Autograph” contests on Instagram, mobile alerts and active engagement on all outlets. When all of those activities are combined it’s a magical social combination.

To learn more about this concept and other social media stunts for events, we encourage you to take our Digital Royalty University class, “The Art of Event Activation”.

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