BY: CRISTINA BYRNE STERNBERG, 22 DE LOS ANGELES PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Sure, there's a minor league baseball team calledGarbage Pandas🇧🇷 Yes, slang for a raccoon, you know, the animal that rummages through the trash! 🇧🇷
Lucas Dolengowski manages his social media and is constantly finding ways to stand out from the other 119 minor league baseball teams. He likes to create weird memes and incorporate some jokes into the brand; He also says he's "fortunate to work with a lot of talented people who come up with a lot of ideas".
Watch this exclusive interview and learn more about what it takes to be a Rocket City Trash Pandas Social Media Manager. The name responsible for the highest pre-game merchandise sales in minor league baseball.
Love or hate Raccoon, or should I say Trash Panda lives in Rocket City and doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
Rocket City Trash Pandas is the Double-A affiliate of the LA Angels based in Madison, AL.
Hey! I'm Lucas Dolengowski and I'm the social media manager for Rocket City Trash Pandas! I grew up in Orlando in the heart of the theme parks and graduated from the University of Florida. I have worked professionally in social media including collegiate athletics, golf and soccer for over 5 years.
Have you always wanted to be a social media manager or are you into it?
Originally I wanted to do sports, especially baseball. I spent most of my college experience doing it, but during my senior year at UF I got an opportunity to work as a social media intern for the athletic department. I've always loved social and used it a lot personally, and two months into this internship I decided to change careers. A group of friends of mine from their college sports broadcast program did the same and got social - many of them also work for big teams. Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Falcons, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Lightning to name a few.
What pressure do you face when you have to post to thousands of followers?
I think the biggest challenge is to keep creating new content, or at least new ways of presenting recurring content. You need to keep things fresh online or else your fans will just tune out and engagement will wane. I'm competitive in that way too - I want to be better and different than the other 119 teams in the minor leagues. So far we've created such a fun and unique brand with Trash Pandas, so my personal pressure is how do we keep that up and stay in people's minds.
Where do you find inspiration for content?
My media relations coordinator often asks me this, like, "How do you get these things?" Honestly, sometimes my brain works in really weird and silly ways. I love memes and I love comedy so that influences a lot of what I do. Minor league baseball (and the internet as a whole) is a copycat industry, so I enjoy using whatever trending content you see to your advantage. I am fortunate to work with many talented people who also provide many ideas. It's a very collaborative effort.
What challenges do you face when managing social media? And how to overcome them?
It's an "always on" type of work. The ability to always stay connected to our professional social channels is both a blessing and a curse. Along with our broadcaster, our social media team will be covering ALL Trash Pandas games throughout the season. It's great that we can watch and post about baseball, but our "days off" are definitely a lot fewer than most other people in the office. It's very important to take breaks and switch off during the off-season to clear your mind. The other challenge is digital envy – there are MANY talented sports creatives out there, many in organizations with far more resources to produce great content. Sometimes I get jealous of their posts. It's great for ideas, but you need to do what you can do and control what you can control.
What do you think are your top 3 posts on social media? It's because?
that is oursnow viral tiktok, with over a million views. Last season, it got a little boring for our athletics coach, Yusuke Takahashi, to look at the camera during pre-game warm-ups. It's just hilarious and simplicity often wins out on social media. That isone of my personal favoritesbecause it was a very timely post that had nothing to do with us. Tennessee football fans literally trashed the field because of a bad referee call, so I had to jump. Any trending topic or meme related to trash, litter, or raccoons is fair game to us and generally works really well. Finally,that home runfrom last season is maybe my favorite iPhone photo. I just put it on a gimbal and there will certainly be thousands of high quality videos in the sports world, but giving direct access to fans is really important to me. Emotion plays beautifully in the social. I got splashed with Gatorade and water, of course.
Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok – how do you distinguish which content should be posted where?
Most of this really depends on your age and demographics. Facebook and Twitter are older, Instagram and TikTok are younger. Much of our marketing and sales effort goes to Facebook and Twitter to ensure posts include as much relevant information as possible. You almost have to "feed" the fans with details - people can easily look up information on our website or the link in the post, but most don't want to waste time. On Instagram and TikTok we find more pop culture and funny pictures. Luckily for Trash Pandas, we're a much broader brand and not JUST a baseball team. We can delve into memes and trending topics, and it works for us. Society has such a short attention span - how quickly can you grab and hold someone's attention?
Describe a hiccup/regret on social media and what did you learn from it?
I don't have a concrete example, but sometimes I'm a bit cheeky on our channels, especially when I'm replying to fans. It works on TikTok and Twitter because they're more "fun" platforms, but on other channels I have to keep a balance. I find it a bit frustrating when people ask us a question that should be quicker to google than waiting for an answer from the social team. We set a good standard for responding quickly to customer service requests because it's such an important part of the job. But what if we weren't so quick with the answers? Or did you not have the resources to adequately respond to customer requests? I'm a very independent internet user and know how to find things easily, but I have to remember that other people aren't wired that way.
What Skills Should a Social Media Manager Have?
One skill I really value is the ability to write. How fast and with what quality can you create attention-grabbing captions? How is your spelling and grammar? do you check Of course, depending on the brand, not everything has to be grammatically correct, but it's important nonetheless. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing other teams make spelling and grammatical errors. You must be a multi-faceted content creator. Can you produce, film, edit and post? It's great to have creative support around you, but you have to have some independence to do it to a certain extent.
What is the most important thing a social media manager should know?
This is certainly a learned trait, but you can't take things personally. People on the internet send mean replies, angry messages and post stupid comments - unfortunately that's the world we live in. Some things are definitely hard to take, but I generally try to take everything with caution. Most of the time it's very funny for me. Comedy is my defense mechanism. I enjoy reading our most bizarre/irrational comments in post-game meetings.
Describe a typical day for the off-season and during the season.
The season is my favorite time as a social media manager. We will hold team meetings every matchday to review that night's operations. We'll show you what freebies or promotions we might have, new foods, lineups, matchups... it's all part of the stadium experience. Once the players arrive in the afternoon, we usually practice hitting or throwing drills. It's good to leave the office at this time of day, enjoy the sun, the atmosphere of the game, and collect real baseball content. Once the game starts we film game highlights, crowdshots, monitor social feeds, answer fan questions and finally post score updates. During the off-season we have a heavy focus on non-baseball events: Beer & Wine Fest, 5K, Christmas Light Show, 4th of July celebrations, etc. We will also be recaping the season just ended and planning for the next baseball season to begin. It really is a year-round marketing effort.
In terms of engagement, what content does Trash Panda Nation seem to be responding to?
Sprocket, our mascot, is a fan favorite. Her personality should be mischievous and fun, and that works great as the face of our brand. With just one season under its belt, Sprocket's content still has more engagement than most things we release with players or trainers. People also seem to love gardening videos. They really fall into that "oddly satisfying" genre. Mowing lawns, painting lines, sweeping soil - everything is strangely calm and pleasant to consume. Memes and pop culture references often kill, too. Again, we're more of a lifestyle brand than a baseball team.
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