Brand Strategy

How an intern helped the Savannah Bananas baseball team become TikTok famous

Savanah Alaniz, marketing coordinator for the Bananas, started running the team’s TikTok while she was in college. It now has nearly 4 million followers.
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Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photos: TikTok/@thesavhbananas

· 5 min read

The Yankees, perhaps the most famous baseball team on the planet, have a cool 1 million followers on TikTok.

But there’s a team that has them beat: the Savannah Bananas. With nearly 4 million followers, CNN dubbed them “TikTok’s favorite baseball team” last year.

The Bananas aren’t an MLB team, nor do they play in the Minor League; they’re an exhibition team founded in 2016 that plays “Banana Ball.” Think: the Harlem Globetrotters, but for baseball.

So how’d they gain millions of followers in three years? It started with an intern.

Match made in heaven

After starting seven years ago, the Savannah Bananas became known for their on-field antics, like performing choreographed dances at every game and playing in kilts, as well as giving post-game interviews in…nontraditional settings.

In 2019, during her sophomore year at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Savanah Alaniz was looking for an internship when she discovered the team’s Instagram account, which led her to its website, she told us. There, she found a digital marketing internship posting.

She applied, and at one point during the interview process, pitched the idea of a TikTok account. (And yes, she did also mention that “we share a name,” Alaniz said in an interview with Marketing Brew.)

A couple of days later, she said the team directed its Instagram followers to a brand-new TikTok page. Two weeks after that, in February 2020, Alaniz got the internship. The account gained a couple hundred followers over the next three or four months, but she got access at the start of her internship in June, and its TikTok following grew to about 200,000 by the end of summer.

One video she created that summer—when players were at home during those days of the pandemic—reached 30,000 views. “That was our first taste of something that started trending,” she told us.


A few weeks later, a video of a player dancing clocked about 100,000 views, according to Alaniz.

“We were like, ‘Oh yeah, this is gonna be something huge,’” she said. “Then we really put a lot of emphasis on TikTok, posting every day, and creating really cool content for people to engage with.”

Nowadays, with some videos amassing more than 2 million views, that’s nothing. But at the time, “it was the coolest thing,” Alaniz remembered.

Under the peel

After her internship ended, she stayed with the team part-time with the official title “pop culture prodigy,” while taking classes remotely. In March of last year, the Bananas’s TikTok hit 1 million followers just a few months before Alaniz’s graduation.

By the time she’d graduated, Alaniz had been promoted to marketing assistant, and months later, took on the role of marketing coordinator, which largely involves running point on the brand’s social strategy.

Her approach to the brand’s TikTok has changed over the years. During her intern days, her plan was to grow the account by leaning into the type of content she was looking for on TikTok: “cute boys,” she said.

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“We had a 70% female audience that first summer because we were posting shirtless players dancing,” she told us. Now, the breakdown is about 54% men and 46% women.

TikTok and Instagram are the Bananas’ biggest social platforms, so Alaniz is mostly focused there, but also posts on Facebook, Twitter, and others. For TikTok videos these days, when the Bananas are in season, she’s most often trying to capture something happening on the field, in the locker room, or in the dugout that viewers wouldn’t typically expect to see.

The goal is to “make baseball fun” and grab people’s attention in the first few seconds of the video, she explained. Oftentimes, that means piggybacking off of—or “Banana-fying,” as Alaniz put it—TikTok trends or memes, like the “anything but a backpack” trend, which the Bananas turned into “anything but a slide.”


“We’ve grown as a brand and as content producers,” she told us. “It’s much more centered around making baseball fun and creating content that people will want to follow us from, or buy a ticket, or buy merchandise.”

Is it fruitful?

Alaniz has personal milestones she’d like to reach, like growing the TikTok account to a certain size by a certain date, but said her team doesn’t set specific goals regarding sales or conversions. The brand’s marketing director and Alaniz’s boss, Kara Heater, who also started as an intern in 2018, corroborated.

“We’re okay [with] just strictly trying to have people enjoy the content and not trying to sell them anything,” Heater told us. “We want people to feel valued. We don’t want them to feel sold [to].”

It seems like they’re buying anyway. Last year, when the Bananas announced their “world tour schedule,” the website shut down for three days due to traffic, Heater said. There are over 500,000 people on a waitlist for tickets, she added. The tour kicks off on Feb. 17, and already about 75% of the tickets are sold out, according to Alaniz. The other 25% aren’t on sale yet.

“We provide value to our fans by the content we post, and in turn, because they love what we do so much and they feel such a good connection with the players, they want to be there to support the team,” Alaniz said.

Alaniz told us she loves her job in Savannah, but hopes to eventually move back home to Texas someday. Wherever she is, she wants to continue to work in the sports and social media marketing space.

“That’s where I thrive, and it makes me super happy,” she said. “Talk about serotonin and an adrenaline rush whenever a video starts going viral and you see the numbers rolling in. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it right now.”

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