The Summer Olympics in Rio provided the perfect opportunity for marketers to jot down some ideas for their next big campaign. Now, with the festivities of the closing ceremony behind us, let’s reflect on some of the content marketing tactics illuminated during the 2016 games.
- Storytelling Through Retweets
With 42 unique sports, more than 11,000 athletes and 306 separate events, adequately covering the 2016 Summer Olympics would be practically impossible for even the most talented content marketer. However, content marketers managing the Olympics Twitter account took a wiser approach: telling the latest stories each day through retweets.
While yes, the Olympics posted original photos and other content, they also relied significantly on other reputable sources. Who would know better how a brand new gold medalist was feeling than the athlete in question? Retweeting posts from individual athletes’ accounts gave a much more personalized view than a reporter’s update would have – like this retweet of decathlete Ashton Eaton’s thank-you note, and this one of rower Helen Glover’s closing ceremony selfie.
- Illustrating with Images
The Olympic social media outlets didn’t just post a few photos of athletes participating in their sport – they went above and beyond, capturing every sight that was bound to touch or astonish audiences. It’s no secret that the Olympics is a lavish and extensively prepared event, but the images speak for themselves on Twitter and Facebook. What makes the imagery so effective and contagious is the moments the marketers chose to publish – like the closing ceremony performances and athletes’ expressions just seconds after winning the gold – including a shot of a tearful Ryan Held leaning on the shoulder of teammate Michael Phelps during the medal ceremony for their victorious 4x100M relay.
- Bonding Through Emojis
Now hear us out – emojis are often considered unprofessional content, best left for personal social media use. But maybe it’s time to judge emojis by their actual impact on audiences, rather than by an initial reaction. A study by the IPA showed that purely emotional content performed better than rational or mixed content. Using emojis frequently throughout their coverage, like flags, medal types and even an official Olympic emoji helped create a more communal feeling. Including emojis in posts helped audiences feel as though the updates were coming from people – other Olympics lovers – rather than a bland and generic account devoid of emotion.
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- Staying Relevant with Hashtags
An explosion of new hashtags surfaced as the Olympics picked up speed. Some simple hashtags like #rio2016 and #olympics helped keep the broader audience updated, while others like #olympicart helped reel in crowds that otherwise may not have had a reason to get involved with the sporting event. And these hashtags weren’t chosen on a whim. Organizers compiled a selection of trademarked words and phrases to ensure companies wouldn’t use the Olympics as a way to market products or distort the true Olympic brand.
- Addressing Social Issues Through Blogging
The Olympics faced increased scrutiny and criticism in recent years after poor residents were displaced from their homes or otherwise shut out in several hosting cities. In response, organizers are making attempts to change that negative perception. The Rio 2016 website featured an article outlining some positive changes that have come from the games, like donations of health equipment to public hospitals in Rio and the recovery of a supposed 108 acres of natural landscape during construction for the games.
- Inspiring Through Videos
Video content has been the Olympics’ most effective medium for conveying the passion and dedication of Olympic athletes. From informational videos to emotionally charged storytelling, Olympic organizers compelled audiences to keep watching. The Olympics Youtube channel offered a cadence of must-watch content. For example, “Road to Rio” videos, a series of commercials depicting athletes preparing for the Olympics, showcased stories like that of 19-year-old Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan, the first athlete to represent South Sudan, or the world’s first refugee team – a group of swimmers, runners, and a judoka who persevered despite war and displacement from their homes in Africa and Syria.
Overall, the Olympics communications team executed a well-rounded marketing strategy, with a winning combination of stats, news, and storytelling that painted an uplifting picture to engage fans around the world.
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