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Katie Richman helps build ESPN’s special blend of social media interaction for espnW, X Games

Director of Social Media Strategy and Development Katie Richman, holding tablet, tweeting live from an espnW Women + Sports Summit. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images).
Director of Social Media Strategy and Development Katie Richman, holding tablet, live-tweeting from an espnW Women + Sports Summit. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

Katie Richman, ESPN’s director of Social Media Strategy and Development, is a driving force behind espnW and X Games’ respective strategies to interact with fans. Before joining ESPN in February 2005, Richman studied English Literature at Providence College and worked for Nickelodeon and Oxygen television networks.

Front Row asked Richman about ESPN’s social media evolution and what’s on tap this summer — socially — for espnW.

How has social media evolved at ESPN in the last few years?
When ESPN first started dabbling in the social media space in about 2008, it really was led by a small group of passionate employees from across every division of the company. Some of the first social media accounts at ESPN were created through these people coming together. Very quickly, we established more property-specific accounts —primarily on Facebook, then Twitter. Our on-air commentators and analysts were some of the early advocates and content creators on Twitter.

Katie Richman at the Aspen X Games.
Katie Richman at the Aspen X Games.

espnW launched a summer campaign. How have fans reacted?
From Memorial Day to Labor Day is the Summer of W. As a part of the campaign, espnW launched a photo hashtag-based campaign called 98 Days to Shine. Every day, espnW presents a challenge to users. Fans submit their photos using #98DaysToShine to accept the challenge.

We then pull all of these hashtagged photos back onto the site. We’ve seen great success with anything photo-related in the past, and #98Days is doing really well. As of today, we have close to 4,000 pictures approved and added to the mosaic. The photos themselves have been inspiring, and we feature daily and weekly winners by sharing them socially to our fans.

What’s been one of your proudest accomplishments from the past year?
The Global X Games team has put a real priority on getting social elements into the actual live show broadcasts. One of the integrations we’ve grown is the inclusion of social photos into the shows. We curate all of the athlete streams on Facebook and Twitter, scanning for the best social photos that are being taken by them. We then identify the best, pulling them into graphic shells and working them into the live show on the spot. It’s been a big success and we keep getting better at it.

Additionally, during the Women’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, we curated social photos into the games [beginning with] the Selection Show, using the images to tease a gallery of social photos we had on Our goal for the entire tournament was to get 500,000 views of photos in the gallery. We ended up with 1.8 million views by the end. It was a huge driver of page views on the site during that time. To me, that’s a shining example of how we can integrate second screen experiences back on our site with social.

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