MLB tries major Twitter push for All-Star Game

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Major League Baseball is changing the rules for its all-digital contest to select the last two All-Stars, allowing official hashtags used on Twitter during the last four hours of the vote Thursday to count the same as voting by online ballot or SMS message. The league won’t get the info it usually requires for votes, swapping that for a burst in publicity and a chance to gauge how involved fans are willing to be in social media.

MLB told the New York Times the results of the last-minute push will be used to assess how social media like Twitter might be used in 2013. The contest to select the last player in the roster for the National League and the American League started in 2002, and unlike the fan vote for the starting lineup that includes paper ballots, has been digital-only all along. More than 50 million votes were cast online or by text in 2011 (each fan gets to vote up to 25 times); including Twitter should push the needle this year.

This year’s vote for the final players to be selected for each team already included a heavy emphasis on Twitter by MLB and the teams campaigning to get their players selected. The contest is known as #FinalVote. Players have hashtags like #freeseplease for the St. Louis Cardinal’s David Freese, #takejake for Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy or #BryceIn12 for Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper. MLB.com carefully includes hashtags in posts meant to play up the contest, the players and the 83rd All-Star Game July 10th in Kansas City. The players campaign too, for themselves and each other.

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