ESPN’s Stats & Information Group (SIG) prides itself in providing the fastest, most accurate and insightful sports data to consumers and in recent years, the department has found Twitter to be a perfect platform. The team regularly distributes sports nuggets, in 140 characters or less, establishing a unique voice in the social media space.
The department’s Twitter account, @ESPNStatsInfo, is nearing 500,000 followers — there are 489,416 as of noon ET today — and has grown exponentially in the last two years. It has been recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 100 sports news, information and entertainment accounts to follow.
“We share the kind of smart stats that fans can use to tout their favorite team or player when hanging out with friends,” said Statistics Manager Michael Protos. “The method to our success has been evolution and hard work.”
Created in 2009, the feed originally served as a vehicle to link fans to the ESPN Stats & Info blog, but as Twitter’s popularity increased, SIG began producing unique Twitter content beginning in Fall 2010. At the time, they had roughly 55,000 followers.
“If something significant happens in sports, we try to tweet the most interesting, pertinent notes related to that game,” said Research Specialist Mark Simon, noting the account’s bread and butter is quick-reaction, in-game coverage.
“Ideally, it’s something that resonates and wows,” he said. “@ESPNStatsInfo essentially serves as a second screen to complement the actual viewing of the game.”
“We’ve run trivia contests, poll questions — a few of which have turned into segments on studio shows — and Twitter chats around big events,” said Vice President of SIG Emerging Business Noel Nash.
The team’s most popular series of tweets in the last six months came in November 2012 when Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor scored 138 points in a basketball game. SIG provided extensive notes tied into the event, alerting people just after it happened, comparing scoring records and creating a visual shot chart from game film.
“We had that event covered in every significant way that we could,” Simon said. “Fans responded very strongly.”