I wrote a post awhile ago about why I love both Baseball and PR. Well, last week, I was able to experience the fusion of baseball and another of my favorite things, social media. On Wednesday, June 16, I was invited to sit in the Tribe Social Deck at Progressive Field. For those of you who have never heard of the Tribe Social Deck, it is the Cleveland Indians way of integrating the game, fans and social media into the ballpark experience.

The Cleveland Indians are the first major league team to incorporate social media into the ballpark experience like this. The deck is equipped with Wi-Fi and attendees are welcome to tweet, blog, Facebook and share their experience. The Indians Website describes the social deck as “your own private section for networking, social media and baseball.” What a great combination!

I had the privilege of sharing the social deck with @bobaber @DSampies @JoeG2001 @mattkittle and @MikeAmmo and we were the lucky group of Social Deck attendees to catch the first ever home run hit to the Deck (Thank you Shelley Duncan!). We also had the opportunity to chat with the people behind the Tribe Social Deck and the @tribetalk account, Curtis Danburg and Rob Campbell. We joked, enjoyed the weather and the game, signed the famous home run ball with our Twitter handles, attempted to get the Swarm badge on FourSquare, with no success, and ultimately had a great time (despite the fact that the Indians lost 8-4).

#theball that made Tribe Social Deck history!

So why is this a big deal?

I constantly hear conversations and read articles about the need for brands to engage with their audience. Content is great, but engagement is better. At least that’s what I hear whenever the topic comes up on Twitter.

What else comes up in the online conversation often? The fact that making connections online is only step one. You have to move from Twitter, to email, to Skype, etc. with a face-to-face meeting being the ultimate end result. It’s why we plan Tweet-ups, Skype chats and coffee dates with those that we engage with online the most.

And the Tribe Social Deck does both beautifully. The brand (@tribetalk) engages directly with the fans not only online, but offline as well and also allows participants to take the conversation offline and connect with individuals who share a common interest face-to-face.

It will be interesting to see how many other teams and/or leagues adopt something like this in the future and what their individual takes on it will be. I have to give the Cleveland Indians a big kudos for this idea and I’m glad that I was able to be a part of it!

I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts about the Tribe Social Deck. Whether you’ve sat in on a game (or more!) or just have a thought about the incorporation of social media and sports – I would love to hear from you!