By Ashley Shiels
In any given month, approximately 1.28 BILLION people are active on Facebook – roughly equivalent to the entire population of India. As this becomes the new normal we have to accept that with this mounting phenomenon there there’s a fine balance between being strict on policies and yet still being creative with originality so as to avoid replication. In order to soak up the benefits, looking at your competition is crucial.
The Olympic games have decided that in order to embrace this new social media realm, there are going to have to be some rules and regulations. They have actually come out with “social and digital media guidelines” for anybody involved in the Games to follow. Some of these rules include the refrainment of mentioning any religious or political institutions or views, the prohibition of photographs and videos of the actual games (competitions) to be put on social media (i.e posts, streaming) without permission, and absolutely no advertisements via digital or social media that denotes any relationship or association between the Olympic Games and another institution unless otherwise oriented by the IOC. These are in place, of course, to respect the wishes and values of the Olympics, but also demonstrate the necessary need for protection on owned content in a world where nothing is private anymore.
Interestingly enough, with as much press as the Olympics gets when the games come around, there are certain niche sports, such as USA Swimming and Track and Field, that don’t get nearly as much attention as desired during the “in-between” times of the Games. These are called NGB’s or National Governing Bodies. These are exactly the type of organizations that social media can aid. The majority of NFL and MLB sports fans actually stated that they spend more time watching the league as a result of following or staying up to date with their favorite teams on social media. So, NGB’s have looked at those stats and, due to their much smaller budget, are attempting to take advantage of the mostly free social media platforms to bring in more fans, more attention or coverage during non-game times, and of course more fan attention with the hopes of bringing in more coinage. That is a beautiful strategy right there.
However, those smaller niche sports, ambitious as they are, have much ahead of them in their social media future and they can learn a thing or two from the Women’s National Soccer Team. Many think that as long as you have social media, more interaction will follow. However, there’s a bit more to it than that; posting dull content, or using cheesy, tacky selling schemes will actually push fans away. Content needs to be interactive with the fans and make them feel as if they are part of the team. The Women’s National Soccer Team did a great job by creating the hashtag #OneTeamOneNation and telling their stories that went beyond the field. In addition they also sent custom made T-shirts to influencers, like the POTUS himself, so that they, in turn, could share it with their own followers. Obama put a tweet up with a picture of himself holding the shirt and you can imagine how many people saw and engaged with that. The network effect people; learn it, live it, love it.
Great Britain actually had the most positive discussion on social media followed by the United States, even though the USA took home the most medals. Discussion, sharing, and interaction via social platforms can be one of the greatest types of media coverage that an organization can ask for, and the best part? It can be stimulated by the organization itself with the right tools. Great Britain uses that idea to show us that perhaps there is more than one type of winning when it comes to the Olympic Games. Taking a page out of their book, and focusing on social media measurement and stimulation can help brands do better in all departments.