For the first time in ESPN’s 34 years of televising the NFL Draft, the company’s Social Media group will have a presence at Radio City Music Hall. You might say they’re ESPN’s newest expansion team.
With hopes of engaging fans across multiple screens during the three-day telecast — beginning tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN — Senior Manager of ESPN Social Media Jason Romano detailed the three major initiatives his group is planning this week:
1. Custom Hashtags:
During Rounds 1-3 (tonight and Friday), fans will notice evolving hashtags in the lower right corner of their screens. Beginning with #KCPick for the Kansas City Chiefs’ first pick, the hashtag will be constantly updated depending on the team that’s picking, encouraging fans to engage in conversation with ESPN shows (@ESPNNFL) and commentators in real time. This conversation tool will be utilized across all platforms, including the Twitter accounts for @ESPNDeportes, @ESPNStatsInfo, @SportsCenter, @ESPNMondayNight and more.
2. Custom Images:
Throughout Round 1 (tonight), Romano will collaborate with ESPN Images, the company’s in-house photography group, to capture behind-the-scenes moments fans won’t necessarily see watching the telecast. These custom images from Radio City might be paired with 140 characters from NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. and will be shared via Facebook and Twitter.
3. Live Votes:
On Saturday, fans are invited to take part in NFL Draft live votes. Similar to what has been done on Sunday NFL Countdown and NFL Live, this is an opportunity for fans to join the debate with host Suzy Kolber and analysts Tedy Bruschi, Herm Edwards and Ron Jaworski, all of whom will be discussing the NFL Draft from the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn. From a second screen, fans can engage in a real-time discussion and offer their thoughts on NFL Draft-related topics.
Additionally, Romano’s marketing colleagues Pat Butkus, Gabe Rose and John Twomey will experiment with what Butkus describes as “serious long-term engagement,” an initiative that requires fans to have their eyes and ears locked into ESPN’s TV coverage of the NFL Draft:
4. Draft BINGO:
Hoping to simulate the experience of being in New York for the NFL Draft, ESPN’s consumer marketing and social media marketing teams developed a BINGO game, which fans can play on their desktop, tablet or mobile phone. Engaged, attentive viewers will be able to populate their BINGO card by identifying certain happenings, such as the commissioner hugging a draft pick or popular phrases used by Kiper. Those who achieve BINGO should tweet #DraftBINGO at @ESPN.
How well do you speak NFL Draft? Here’s a glossary of draft terms.