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The monumental reach created by the Olympics provides an unusual scenario for network television channels and businesses alike. The Olympics is a thrilling couple of weeks where a sport like the four-person bobsled is sexy for network channels, and a window is presented to create free and effective marketing by leveraging social media.
During the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London, the International Olympic Committee reported that upwards of 3.6 billion people watched at least one minute of the Olympic games. There is no doubt that people are watching the Olympics.
But how does social media come into play?
With all the attention the Olympics grab, there are a plethora of different aspects of the games that are being introduced to social media. The Sochi games in 2014 presented the first instances of social media’s involvement with the Olympics. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter exploded with social commentary regarding the Olympics, attacking unfinished hotel rooms and inedible food for the athletes.
This trend continued into the 2016 games, where more than 53 million tweets were sent regarding the Olympic games. This new “behind-the-scenes” insight, provided by social media, is a great opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the games. If your business is a hotel chain, compose a tweet regarding problems with housing for Olympians and how your hotels are “gold-medal worthy”. If you run a catering business, post a facebook status about how your food is better than that being served to Olympians. The object is to use hashtags and universally relevant topics to expand your social media reach. And if targeting the social concerns regarding the games is not a route you’re interested in, then using athletes is just as impactful.
When referencing specific Olympians, consider the following:
How popular is the targeted athlete?
And, how popular is the targeted athlete’s event? The Lindsey Vonn’s and Shaun White’s are, of course, the most desirable athletes for marketing. They have a massive reach and compete in some of the most popular sports. However, we are seeing new athletes rise in popularity more than ever before because of social media awareness. These athletes hold unlocked marketing potential that many companies are not aware exist.
A recent fan favorite is 26 years-old freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy of Telluride, Colorado. Though this is Kenworthy’s second Olympics, there is something drastically different about this one. In the 2018 winter Olympics, Kenworthy will be entering as the second openly gay Winter Olympian. In an interview with ESPN, Kenworthy discusses his life before coming out, and his life now as the first openly gay action sports star. In the interview Kenworthy describes his approach to his sexuality in the most Gus Kenworthy way he can:
“I want to be the guy who comes out, wins — and is like, I’m taking names”.
Kenworthy’s story has both inspired and caught the attention of significant media moguls. He was a guest on the Ellen Degeneres show, Conan O’Brien, and the Today Show. Take that and add it to his numerous magazine covers, including a cover story with ESPN, and Kenworthy has created quite a name for himself. With 733k followers on Instagram and 194.2k followers on Twitter, his relates his story to a worldwide audience. Kenworthy certainly entertains a crowd with his posts ranging from selfies with adorable animals, to modeling behind-the-scenes shots from his ESPN body issue shoot.
According to an analysis run by brand24.com, over the last 3 months, Kenworthy has had an estimated social media reach of 95,698,556 people. Referencing Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) in posts during the Olympic games is an easy way to add relevance to posts or connect with your consumers.
The snowboard halfpipe is the most popular winter Olympic event, according to Sports Illustrated. Sports are contagious conversations because of the excitement and the stakes. A great way to leverage the popularity of an event is by referencing both the event and a significant athlete within it. But, messaging is key. Crafting a heavy-handed message is social media suicide. Referencing both the Olympics and an athlete leverages the momentum for the brand. The brand stands out amongst all the noise because it is specific and continues the conversation.
For the snowboard halfpipe, Chloe Kim has been garnering buzz recently. Kim is one of the youngest American athletes competing in Pyeongchang. And recently made history by becoming the first woman to land back to back the 1080s in the snowboard halfpipe.
Often regarded as “the future of Women’s snowboarding”,
Kim (@chloekimsnow) has 536k followers on Instagram and an estimated social media reach of 191,388,410 people.
On top of that, she’s only 17 years old. Her age makes her relevant to the younger generations. And they will grow up with her as she continues to compete in the Olympics for years to come.
An example could be using her as your #WomenCrushWednesday.
Other solid athletes to reference:
- Adam Rippon (first gay Winter Olympic athlete; figure skater)
- Jamie Anderson (veteran snowboarder)
- Maame Biney (first African-American woman to qualify for speed skating team)
- Nathan Chen (figure skating)
- Mikaela Shiffrin (alpine skiing)
- Maia and Alex Shibutani (figure skating)
The key to using the Olympics to create marketing opportunities by staying relevant.
With regards to using something as monumental as the Olympics, it is easy to lose sight of what consumers are interested in. Stick to the popular sports (snowboard halfpipe, four-man bobsled, figure skating, alpine skiing, hockey.etc…), and stick to the popular athletes. Referencing these subjects in posts through mentions and hashtags will not only create relevance in your post but provide a much larger reach.