ESPN Monday became just the third brand in the world to gain 25 million TikTok followers, and it has all happened in just three years.
ESPN VP, Social Kaitee Daley, who posted ESPN’s first TikTok in March 2019, credits her staff’s understanding of what resonates with younger fans.
“A TikTok executive recently called it an entertainment platform more than a social platform and that aligns with what our team is experiencing,” Daley said. “We’re providing a lot of feel-good entertainment and consistently delivering on what resonates.”
Omar Raja, ESPN talent and lead social strategist, says storytelling on TikTok is more powerful than other “feed” platforms.
“TikTok users keep their audio on, so I can do more effective stories like taking you behind the scenes at events like the NBA Finals or the UFC,” Raja said. “Telling a story in 40 seconds is challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun.”
Daley also believes TikTok drives awareness and consideration of ESPN telecasts among a young audience.
“Whether it is Omar at events or creating a video specifically around a great 30 for 30, millions of young fans are exposed to what is on our linear networks and streaming platforms.”
ESPN has also found a way to incorporate creative sponsorships and branded content into its TikTok content, from Dr. Pepper sponsoring a behind-the-scenes at the College Football Playoff to Raja being immersed at an EA Madden shoot.
In addition to the main ESPN feed, Daley’s team also manages other TikTok accounts with large followings including ESPNFC (3M+), GameDay (600K+) and SportsCenter Next (700K+), which features more youth sports content and has skyrocketed in growth and engagement after launching just four months ago.
“ESPN wants to be relevant wherever fans are consuming sports, and with TikTok, we are delivering,” Daley concluded.
So far in 2022, ESPN TikTok has had over 50 posts with more than 1M Social Engagements.
It took nearly five years for ESPN to reach 1 billion engagements on Instagram versus just over two years for TikTok.
Omar Raja’s account is the most followed and engaged among sports media personalities
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