ESPN, in many ways, is built for the social media age. Its bread and butter — the sports highlight — can be linked to, Tweeted, liked, blogged about and shared in many other ways. ESPN.com’s short articles, rankings, lists, blog posts and commentary pieces are also popular fodder for social media users.
But not all social media is treated equally on the home page of ESPN.com. Facebook is king. Above what could be considered the masthead is the ubiquitous “f” icon that allows users to log into ESPN.com through their Facebook page. Just below that icon, in the box that includes headlines, is a tab that allows users to see what ESPN.com content their Facebook friends have shared in recent days. ESPN’s Facebook page, liked by more than 7 million people, is filled with links to articles, videos and other ESPN content.
But Twitter? Well, from ESPN.com’s home page you’d think it was the mid-2000s, when Twitter didn’t yet exist. No Twitter icon (an industry standard), no section that lists the top tweets of ESPN personalities. Nothing. It’s unusual, to say the least, for a company that prides itself on being hip. This isn’t to say that ESPN doesn’t make good use of Twitter. In fact, it does, ESPN has its own Twitter handle, and many ESPN employees make use of the service with their variations of the @ESPN names.
Like many sites, ESPN.com includes a bar at the bottom of articles where users can recommend, tweet, commented on and e-mail articles. ESPN also has widgets and other applications that users can download.
So while ESPN.com has many points of entries for readers and makes use of social media, its home page shows a clear preference for Facebook and has a dearth of options for users who want to interact through other social media sites. Including more icons and featuring more content posted through social media would help give ESPN.com a more interactive feel and look.