Listen, engage influencers, build relationships: Mariners' invitation to Russell Wilson hits three biggest social media best practices

I talk about the Mariners too much. I know this, my friends know this and everyone who follows me on Twitter definitely know this. So when I do it again right now in speaking to something smart their digital team did, I want to note that I do so as a lesson to other teams, to anyone working in or with social media—not to, again, find every reason I can to talk about the Mariners.

So what did they do, exactly? Well, they treated Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to a ballgame when he went on Twitter to ask his followers what he should do with his Sunday. MLB's Cut 4 blog has the full story of what went down, with the actual tweets and even an accompanying Vine.

I'm sure these types of ideas come naturally, and this was likely spur-of-the-moment brilliance from Mariners Digital Marketing Manager Nathan Rauschenberg, but to break down the anatomy of actions like this, here are a few reasons why it's effective:

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USA Today's 'For the Win' shows social shares are the new pageviews

The media coverage surrounding the Boston bombings and the manhunt that ensued has been written about by everyone, with many noting the event was a seminal moment in the evolution of journalism. For me, listening in to police scanners and tracking others on Twitter as the Camden police chased down who we eventually learned to be Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev for a full half hour before national news channels cut in was added to the long list of events that made me think that those individuals who don't follow news through social media are getting a drastically different and infinitely inferior view of what's going on.

A common theme runs through all the analysis on what this means for journalism: reporting news is now a collaborative process, and news agencies need to do more with what's being put out there socially and connect those who aren't connected. We saw it start during the coverage, with an example of that being MSNBC pulling witness-turned-Twitter-celebrity-reporter Andrew Kitzenberg on the air via Skype.

So what does this have to do with USA Today's latest sports venture, For The Win? Well, they're doing the same thing, but with softer, sports-oriented content: connecting those who are less social with socially-popular content.

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