Virtual Fan Network: The Evolution of the Fan Experience

Batter up! It’s the bottom of the ninth and the San Francisco Giants are about to win the World Series. Game over! Black and orange floods the field as the game draws to a close, Tigers fans paralyzed by the epic sweep and the loss on their home turf.

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As the World Series caps are distributed amongst Giants players, sports networks capture the moment, and Twitter and Facebook explode in celebration.  During the course of the World Series #SFGiants #Tigers and #WorldSeries hashtags flooded Twitter, with over 701,289 total Tweets.  Orange October took over the Twitter landscape, as fans engaged in the online social media marketing world to showcase their Giants pride.  The World Series has officially won on Twitter.

Elsewhere in San Francisco: Athletes take to the Online World

Forty years ago before Twitter took the center stage in Major League Baseball marketing,  players interacted with fans in a far different fashion.  The trading card industry flourished, with young boys hammering at their chance at cards of the Big Red Machine players of Cincinnati, home run hitting Hank Aaron, or Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson.   Elsewhere in San Francisco a new Virtual Fan Network has emerged, providing a new avenue for fans and athletes to connect in the online space, creating the first social media channel for athletes.

Fans now have the opportunity to get closer to their favorite athletes than ever before, with moments captured and made into downloadable virtual baseball cards. The digital sports platform connects fans, athletes, advertisers, and publishers, creating the first ever opportunity for players to control their own digital brand and engage with their fan following.

The Crowning Moment

A big strike out, a crucial touchdown pass, a blocked punt! These are moments in the ESPN highlight reel; moments fans embrace. Now the fan-to-athlete experience has just gotten that much better. Fans are granted exclusive access to professional athletes, getting real-time stats, players’ social feeds, videos, athlete online stores, and more.  Athletes themselves are granted an opportunity to connect directly with their fans.

Thus far, over 1,200 athletes have become involved with Virtual Fan Network, including Barry Zito, Hunter Pence, all members of the San Francisco Giants, and Virtual Fan Network’s NFL Ambassador, Brett Favre.  The business world is taking notice, with players capitalizing on the opportunity, fans reaching out to connect, advertisers flocking to the platform,  and the company itself embracing the opportunity to  “deliver a really engaging and cool experience that allows people to engage with a sports hero” (Forbes).

Forty years ago the crowning moments were photographed and epitomized in print, trading cards serving as a platform by which the young sports fan could collect and idolize their sports hero. With the evolution of social media and the introduction of the online world this past time has traversed to digital.  An athlete has the opportunity to connect, to capture that moment, and engage with the fan after they do so. Keep an eye on the prize, get that camera ready, and head over to Twitter and the Virtual Fan Network. Ready, set, go!





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