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Extreme tweets: How ESPN’s X Games social strategy paid off

We worked with ESPN to measure Twitter’s reaction to this year’s X Games 17, held in Los Angeles, California from July 28-31, 2011. Hundreds of athletes from 17 countries competed in sports like skateboarding, motocross, BMX and rally car racing. And over the four days of the X Games, 97,200 people tweeted 188,813 times, generating an impressive reach of 37.7 million*.

How’d they do it?

“Our goal going in was to make the event as social as possible,” says Mick Kelleher, Associate Manager of Multimedia Content Strategy for the X Games. This was a big, integrated effort combining all the ESPN teams responsible for producing the X Games. The TV production team showed the #xgames hashtag frequently during the telecast, included athlete Twitter accounts in on-screen bios as well as showing athlete tweets on air. The social team used the @XGames Twitter account to keep their followers on Twitter up to date on all the events. The social integration even went all the way to the event site, where they encouraged fans attending the Games to tweet.

The results

ESPN used TweetReach Pro Trackers to comprehensively track and analyze all mentions of the X Games on Twitter for the week leading up to the event and during the event itself. As you can see below, the strong results of their social strategy speak for themselves.

The most retweeted tweet about the games was from @LilTunechi, which received 905 retweets and generated more than 3 million impressions.

One of the biggest stories to come out of this year’s X Games concerned Travis Pastrana, who broke his ankle and leg in the Moto X Best Trick competition on Thursday, but later competed – and placed fourth – in the RallyCross final on Sunday.

We analyzed tweets about several events in detail, including Moto X Best Trick, Skateboarding Big Air, BMX Park Freestyle, Rally Car Racing, Skateboard Street, and RallyCross. At one point during the RallyCross final, viewers noticed something strange; 200 people tweeted that they spotted The Stig from Top Gear walk behind Brian Deegan during an interview. Here are the big moments from one our favorite X Games 17 days. Click the image for the full size version.

Congrats to all the athletes who competed this year! Thank you for an exciting and action-packed four days at X Games 17.

*Read this for more on how we calculate reach and other metrics. And, are you interested in this kind of analysis for your media event? Let’s talk.

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