It is the late days of February. While the baseball season itself technically doesn’t start until the beginning of April, this is the time of year when the teams are taking time to craft their lineups. They are evaluating each player on the squad and deciding who is going to make the roster for the regular season. You see, in baseball, only a certain number of people are allowed to be on the roster so when you get past your pitchers and your long term contract players, you look for young talent. Guys that have not had their shot yet, but have a lot of potential. One way they measure that is looking at 5 categories:

  1. Hitting for average
  2. Hitting for power
  3. Base running skills
  4. Throwing
  5. Fielding

These five skills make what is called a “Five Tool Player”. Now, not everyone is an all star in every single area, many players are more apt in one area above the rest but you strive to reach the to the top in each area on this list. I was taking a look of those and I realized how these are the 5 tools that you want to have in abundance in yourself when working in this industry of social media. Let me show you.

Consistency and engagement (Hitting for average)

Baseball highlight reels LOVE homeruns. Some people think homeruns are what bring people into the seats and sell jerseys. When I am watching baseball, I care about something even more than that: consistency. I like when I can count on my team getting on base. If you don’t have any runners on base, then when a homerun happens it only counts for one run. However, if you can have people on base when that big hit comes in, then you are going to score more with that swing.

Same goes for you in social media. The closing of the sale is great, but it is not what gets you more runs. You need to consistently engage. Day in and day out, you have to get the little victories. You need to engage with the community and build trust. You need to add value so often that it blows them away because that is how you set up the bases for that homerun swing.

Call to Action (Hitting for power)

This is where the glory is. So often people focus on this and for the right reason. You can talk nice to people, you can engage on a level with them that other brands don’t, and doing that, and only that, you will score a few runs here and there. A team that does nothing but hits singles does score; however, that is not the way you win a championship. You need to have something to bring out in order to knock a runner home from second every so often and that is the call to action.

The important thing to remember here is that every swing can not be a homerun; however, the art of that type of swing is everything. If you hone this skill, and know when to pull it out, then you will be super successful. Half of this skill is the ability to swing, but the more important half is knowing WHEN to swing.

Response time (base running skills)

Imagine you are up at the plate and you hit a ball that is a blooper over the shortstop’s head. If you watch the ball fly off the bat and just jog, you will make it to first base with no problem. In fact, you will probably be lazily standing on the bag by the time the ball gets back to the infield. Now, imagine you have the same hit, but this time you get out of the batters box fast. You are flying down the line and you touch the bag by the time the ball is rolling towards the right fielder. You take that turn and your arms are pumping. You slide, head first and your hands touch second base before the defense can get a throw into the second baseman. You just hustled and got your team an extra base when it might not have been assumed.

That is what a fast response can do for you. When you are quick to respond, you are showing that you are on top of issues. You are assuring the customer that you have their needs first, and you are exuding a level of care that they are not used to seeing. This quick response catches them off guard just like it caught the RF off guard. You can not always respond right away, but any chance you have to stretch a single into a double—you have a chance to get a leg up when otherwise your competitor would be sitting on first base.

Throwing (Content)

Baseball games last a long time. I personally love that I can have a nice leisurely afternoon at the ballpark watching my team for 9 full innings and a full afternoon. What I have learned in my time studying the game, is that while the work as a whole might last a few hours, those hours are made up of many quick moments that have a very small margin of error. A throw from third to first on a routine ground ball needs to be crazy accurate or the runner could be called safe. A pick off attempt from the catcher needs to be on target or the runner will be able to steal the base and the pitcher needs pinpoint accuracy to hit the strike zone or it could end up in a walk or worse, a home run.

Nothing has more of a tight margin of error than the content you produce and throw to the community. You have so many different aspects of content that have to be just right for it to be worthwhile for the end customer. You need to make sure it is the right length and the right speed. It needs to be worded and formed in a way that they can actually catch, while making sure you get it out in a timely manner to ensure relevance. You are in a long game so you can have a few throws that are off target, but too many in a row and you are out of the game for good.

Fielding (Listening)

This is the last tool listed and is looked at as the least flashy of the tools. At the end of each season, we give an award called a golden glove to those in each position; however, this glove doesn’t get nearly as much ESPN coverage as the other skills. The reason I love fielding so much, though, is because it sets up everything. If you become as good of a player at fielding, then you have more time for your throwing, and you are able to react faster.

When you are working in social, you need to realize the importance of listening. If you have your antennae up and locked in from the get go, then you are ready to react to any and all issues. You have more time to throw because, instead of finding out about issues a week later, you are listening to the community. As a result, you know about things when they are small issues, before they become larger ones that are harder to contain. If you listen well, you get that extra second jump to respond, and that can mean the difference between a brand hater and a brand advocate.

Not all of us are will be perfect at all of these, but, if you focus on improving the aspect you are not great at, you will get a better chance of getting on the field and proving your stuff.

Dominick Garrett

Highlander Wunderkid Extraordinaire at DLG Social
Dom is a Social Media Junkie. He loves authentic, organic communication that translates both online and off. Dom is a huge fan of business, baseball, and brews (mostly in that order). Movy celeb, Co-Host of #CMGRHangout and a rabid fan of any and all things Michigan State. Tweet him, he likes to chat.

Connect with Dom on Twitter at @domgarrett or on Google+.

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