The ESPN social team is celebrating an impressive milestone as its main TikTok account surpassed 20 million followers in under three years. ESPN is the most-engaged account in sports and is in the top 5 most-followed and engaged brands on the entire platform. Industry publication DigiDay recently reported on the team’s success.
What has been ESPN’s approach to TikTok?
Daley: With any newer social platform we are constantly studying what the audience wants and what the platform itself is leaning into and then blending those insights with ESPN’s unmatched footage rights and our social specialists’ content expertise. When we first launched, it was a lot of testing and learning and we figured out pretty quickly that our more evergreen, entertaining videos were what the TikTok audience was gravitating toward. It may seem on the surface like a lot of user-generated videos but each day we’re making a ton of creative, distinct decisions that set us up for success – 15.5 million views per day just from the main ESPN TikTok account is amazing!
What does the content discovery and creation process look like for TikTok content?
Raja: Content discovery during sporting events is always our talented social team coming together and having their eyes on everything. We’ve also done a great job the last two years encouraging our fans on social to submit content for our channels which has been a huge boost especially during the pandemic.
The creation process has changed throughout the entire year as we’ve understood what the beloved TikTok algorithm pushes to our fans. Videos that hook you in right away are key as well as fast- paced video so fans stay engaged with the content. With these two beliefs in mind, we edit all of our content to have great hooks and then at times use music or voice over commentary to keep our fans engaged.
How is ESPN expanding our audience through TikTok?
Daley: A large percentage of what ESPN offers on our owned and operated platforms is geared toward the hardcore sports fan but in a TikTok environment that skews younger and with nearly 62 percent of sports fans age 12-24 identifying as “light” or “casual” we are making sure that the ESPN brand is accessible and relevant to all fans.
And it’s working!
What’s your favorite piece of content this year and why?
Raja: [ESPN college football analyst] Robert Griffin III racing students before a college football game was a great TikTok moment for me. It’s actually what our audience loves, just genuinely fun and heartwarming moments. And this video currently has 7M views and climbing.
Daley: I have to shout out Olympic and X Games medalist Sky Brown because: 1. She’s so talented and brave! 2. Our post of her taking on the megaramp has over 108 million views and 15.5 million likes making it our top performer of the year:
I also think Omar’s on-site videos of athlete warm-ups are a perfect use of the platform and I know he won’t brag on himself so I will!
Anything else you want to share?
Raja: Since Kaitee mentioned my on-site videos, I will say one thing that’s been great about them is I think it’s brought even more interest into different sports and athletes. The behind-the-scenes content is bringing ESPN fans closer to the games and it should make our league partners even happier because we’re showcasing how immensely talented and skilled their athletes are!