With “social media” a widely accepted pillar of marketing strategy, ESPN has erected a virtual tower with its College GameDay social media platforms in 2015.
Entering the last weekend of the show’s regular-season run, the GameDay Twitter handle has increased followers by 56 percent from 2014 to 1.4 million. The show’s Instagram account, established in early August of this year, is closing in on 200,000 followers and was the fastest to achieve 100,000 followers of any show or sports brand for the platform, ever. Even GameDay’s Facebook page has enjoyed growth of 12 percent this year to 1.9 million followers.
What’s behind the numbers? A prescient sense for what will resonate, what to avoid and when to go all-in on one of the many fleeting memes moving through the social vernacular (“Netflix and Chill,” anyone?). Another reason has been Timothy Dwyer, ESPN producer and social media guru.
Dwyer runs all three platforms for the 15 weeks of College GameDay’s regular season as well as its post-season stretch right through the College Football Playoff National Championship Jan. 11. It’s the first year the show has had a dedicated social media staff member.
Producer Michael Bucklin, Dwyer’s supervisor, said, “We saw the obvious potential in expanding these platforms and charged Tim with being engaging whether it’s with a sign, sharing a show clip, behind the scenes content or live event coverage. The more engaging he is, the more fans are served.”
Dwyer travels Thursday through Sunday during football season. He is often seen sitting with the crew during its weekly production meeting, capturing notes and images to share with fans.
The photo gallery below showcases some of his work, including advancing GameDay’s regular-season finale Saturday (9-11 a.m., ESPN) before the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.
“It’s hard to overstate how excited I am to see the scene at GameDay this coming Saturday,” said Dwyer, who has been with ESPN for more than five years and was an associate producer before becoming a segment producer in February 2015. “I’ve been lucky enough to go to a few amazing games this year, but this just has a different feel. I was in the locker room earlier today when Navy came in and saw their jerseys and those incredible helmets, and they’ve all got a letter from the Secretary of the Navy waiting in their locker, and it was just a special moment that I’ll remember for a long time.
But Dwyer’s job is more than reflecting the feel of College GameDay, it’s to give a nod to the company’s overall awareness of what’s going on in the college football landscape, socially, and in the world at large.
Most Saturdays he often marks by sharing of humorous moments and signs from the show’s next stop. But on the recent mid-November weekend of the terrorist attacks on Paris, Dwyer tweeted this image:
“We’d discussed the day before and decided that we were going to pass on signs all together that Saturday, because the tone didn’t feel right to any of us,” Dwyer said. “When we saw that sign in the front row, it was an easy call from there.”