Olympic Social Media Facts:
- Number of IOC Twitter followers: 1.57 million
- @London2012 – 1.5+ million followers
- Key Olympic Hashtags: #London2012, #Olympics
- 9.66 Million tweets during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics
- Over 1,000 Olympic athletes joined the very first “Olympic athletes” social media hub
- Most Popular Athlete on Olympic Twitter hub: LeBron James
- Leading Corporate Social Media Campaigns: Coca-Cola’s “Move To The Beat”, Visa’s “Go World”, P&G’s “Thank You Mom”
- Usain Bolt’s gold medal win in the 100m on Sunday, August 5, 2012 sparked a record breaking 74,000 tweets per minute about the event.
- # of Tweets during London 2012 vs Vancouver 2010: 400 million per day in 2012 vs. 50 million per day in 2010 and Tweet volume is 100x more than what the Beijing Olympics saw in 2008
Social Media Stats: since the 2008 Olympics, the following are increases in social media statistics:
- Number of individuals with Smartphones increased 456%
- Number of individuals with Facebook Accounts increased 901%
- Number of Twitter Accounts increased 29,900%
- Number of Tweets per day increased 12,627%
- Number of individuals with Tablets increased 456%
- Monthly video viewership – 330%
(Source Nielsen, eMarketer, Forrester)
This year’s Olympics have been dubbed the first “Social” Games (even though the first true social media Olympics was Vancouver). Why? Because: spectators and athletes alike are connected, the IOC has had to create an athlete hub to control possible ambush marketing efforts and has even to crack down on brand policing in cyber space, corporate sponsors are using social media to bring their marketing campaigns to life in on an even greater than ever before. Whatever the case, Social Media clearly amplifies communication and it is uncontestable that the 2012 Olympic Games will go down in history as one of the most digitally focused events to date.
By placing such an emphasis on social media, both unintentionally and consciously there are several key questions that come up. Are social media outlets a distraction to athletes? Where do we draw the line on brand policing and freedom of speech online? How will Olympic news be presented, and by whom? And ultimately, which “sponsor”, ambush or official, dominates cyberspace?
Some of The Campaigns
Previously posted (reviewed earlier,) Coca-Cola’s “Move to the Beat” is one of the most social media centered campaigns at the Olympics. When such a large company invests in a global event like the Olympics, it is logical that their activation will be frequent and timely. “Move To The Beat” captures the essence of the Olympic games through Twitter and Facebook by posting pictures and videos as well as updating people on Coke themed events as they happen. During the 10 days prior to the opening ceremony, @CocaCola_GB tweeted an average of 11 times per day which is almost 3x more than their average 4 tweets per day during the months of May to July. These frequent tweets informing followers about the location of the Beat Bus and Olympic themed vending machines show how Coca-Cola is using social media to get people involved with the Olympics in London.
At the time of writing, @CocaCola_GB currently has 1,967 followers while the corporate @CocaCola has 590,215.
During the Olympics, Visa is known for their ability to react in real time to the outcomes of events. We discussed earlier their commercials for Brent Hayden and Emilie Heymans and how they demonstrated Visa’s adaptive strategy. Something just as amazing though, is their use of Twitter and Facebook thus far over the course of the Olympics. Averaging around 9 tweets per day in the months leading up to the Olympics, @TeamVisa’s twitter surged to between 60 and 122 tweets per day during the Games. They are gaining approx. 130 new followers per day to add on to their current 6,571 followers. Cheering on their Team Visa athletes from around the world as well as hyping up future events, Visa is using social media to get people involved and spread the global cheer.
With a campaign goal to thank moms of athletes worldwide, Procter & Gamble has taken to social media to help drive the results of their campaign. During the months of May to July, @ThankYouMom tweeted between two and four times per day, however since July 30th, there has been between 8 and 25 tweets per day. These tweets are generally rallying individuals’ support for athletes before they compete and showing behind the scenes pictures on location at the Olympics. By using social media, P&G is looking to capture the emotion of the Olympics and use it to help each individual thank someone important in their lives – their moms.
At the time of writing, U.S. @ThankYouMom currently has 34,217 followers while the Canadian @ThankYouMomCA has a mere 324 followers.
But, not without Controversy
Since the start of the unofficially dubbed Socialympics, people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinions on the Olympics. Many of these topics have received a lot of publicity, not all of it being positive. Below we’ve highlighted some of the major controversies that have taken place thus far into the Olympics through social media.
When NBC made an announcement that the opening ceremony (and eventually all sporting events) were going to be tape delayed for viewers in the U.S, journalist Guy Adams spoke out on twitter revealing the email of NBC Olympic President Gary Zenkel. Adams was soon after suspended from Twitter, but not before getting the hash tag #NBCFail to start trending. YET, NBC ratings are breaking records!
After a very disappointing loss to the United States in women’s soccer, Canadians took to twitter to voice their opinions on the questionable calls made by the referee during the match. Below are some of the tweets:
Van Koeverden after the final whistle: “Congrats to #CANwnt soccer. Valiant effort, incredible talent, total class.”
Movie star Samuel L. Jackson, after congratulating the U.S. on the win added: “Lemme say though, those Canuck Ladies brought da noise! They came to WIN! Ehhh?!!”
NBA star Steve Nash: “MAJOR respect to the Canadian woman’s soccer team! Didn’t deserve to lose. Played some beautiful stuff and fought like crazy. Heads up.”
CBC host Jian Ghomeshi: “Ref in this game is doing things by the book. Assuming it’s a book that has nothing to do with soccer or this game. #canadavsusa #London2012.”
When athletes embrace twitter and show their frustration, it seems that many of them have been paying the price. Examples include Greek triple jumper and Swiss soccer player; tweeting slanderous and racist comments earning them a one-way ticket out of the Olympics. A lapse in judgment or slip of the finger cannot be taken back in the cyber world.
Olympic athletes are also using Twitter to coordinate an online rebellion against the International Olympic Committee’s rules on social media, claiming that restrictions on advertising is ultimately affecting their performance by obstructing sponsor relationships.
In order to protect sponsorship dollars, the IOC’s Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines’ Rule 40 limits athletes competing in the Olympic Games from appearing in advertising during and shortly before the games in order to help prevent ambush marketing.
U.S. track and field athletes are leading the campaign against Rule 40, using the hashtag #WeDemandChange. ESPN reporter Darren Rovell argued, “The IOC argues Rule 40 protects the investment of those who sponsor the games. It does. It also shows no regard for the athletes.”
Lauren Fleshman, who was the U.S. 5000 meters champion in 2006 and 2010, took advantage of the fact that she’s not competing at the Olympics by giving a shout-out to the sponsors of her friend, Alysia Montano, who is competing as a middle-distance runner at London 2012. Ms Fleshman tweeted, “I don’t have to follow #rule40. Do you? @redbull gives @Alysia800 wings. #wedemandchange.” Alysia Montano is sponsored by Nike and Red Bull.
Dawn Harper, a 100-meter hurdler, has been tweeting photos to make her point, including one of her hairdryer with “Rule 40” tape stuck over its brand name and another with the Rule 40 tape stuck over her mouth.
Texan Leo Manzano, a 1500-meter runner, went one step further. The athlete, who was born in Mexico, risked the wrath of the IOC when he tweeted yesterday, “I crushed a 4.0 mi run with Nike+ SportWatch GPS. #nikeplus:go.nike.com.”
Two days ago, Mr. Manzano tweeted, “I am very disappointed in Rule 40 of the USOC as I just had to take down my picture of my shoes and comments,” and directed followers to a discussion of the topic on his Facebook page.
Athletes who are lucky enough to have deals with official sponsors such as Procter & Gamble, Adidas, BMW, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, can promote them freely in their tweets, but those who are sponsored by other companies are not allowed to mention them on social media during the games.
Ms. Williams wrote, “During the time period when we have the biggest platform to be heard we cannot even thank those who have helped us the last four years. … It also reduces an athlete’s value to any sponsor outside the scope of the IOC or USOC, making it difficult for most athletes to secure personal sponsorship and make a living. (Sources: AdAge, Forbes, The Guardian)
Another fun example is how Nike is challenging Adidas with their #FindGreatness campaign.
Twitter Measures Success
MediaCom decided to track the amount of times Twitter users in the UK mentioned Olympic sponsors in their tweets and then multiplied the number of positive remarks uploaded by the brand engagement rate of their authors, and then by the possible reach of each post. Here are the results;
- P&G logged the best score for the week ending August 5th, 2012 after putting much of their resources behind the “Thank You, Mom” campaign which has been positively received so far.
- General Electric also saw an increase over the past 7 days, while Visa’s score doubled and BMW’s tripled
- In contrast Coca-Cola, Samsung and McDonald’s saw a decline, which could be a result of the negative and contradictory association with the Olympics
Social media control is going to be one of single biggest issues the IOC will have to deal with when protecting sponsors. Athletes should have the right to earn income to support their training efforts however the IOC and LOCOG’s stages the Games which costs hundreds of millions of dollars. There needs to be a happy medium for marketing and communication of sponsors vs non-sponsors during the Games. Can this be achieved?
About “The Business of the Olympics”
The Olympics are one of the most watched events in the world. With so much potential revenue at stake, what makes a successful campaign? How can businesses launch marketing campaigns that are creative, innovative, and universal? THE KMAC GROUP’s “The Business of the Olympics” blog series answers these questions by analyzing select Olympic sponsors, on a global and domestic scale, highlighting their campaign successes and areas of improvement, as well as taking a look at key marketing practices during the Olympics such as “ambush” marketing, Olympic clothing licenses, and the risks involved with marketing during the Games. KMAC has advised and executed Olympic programs with sponsors for the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 Games.