One of the world’s most beloved events, the Olympics, kicks off in London this Friday. For the momentous following few weeks, hundreds of millions of fans around the world will be glued to their television sets watching these electrifying games unfold. This year more than ever, fans will also be actively engaging via social media – reading, posting, and conversing – making the 2012 Olympic Games the most digital and participatory yet.
Here are some important social media lessons marketers and brands can take away from this year’s Olympics.
1) Complement traditional marketing with social media
Major brands are capitalizing on the Olympics by becoming official sponsors. Naturally, this means loads of commercial air time, athlete endorsements, print ads plastered throughout London, merchandising, and other traditional marketing tactics. More than ever, however, sponsors must also focus on social media marketing if they want to get the most bang for their buck. Cadbury ran a “pass the baton” retweet Twitter contest. Coca-Cola launched a silly “Olympic Games Newspaper Maker” Facebook app. The sponsoring brands should be incorporating social media into their TV spots, creating alluring mobile apps, tweeting with Olympics news and opinions, and otherwise cleverly taking advantage of Olympics fever.
Make social media an integral part of any marketing campaign, no matter how big or small. Don’t merely throw an ad on TV; tie it into a spiffy, creative viral video, online game, contest, hashtag campaign, or other enticing concept. Don’t just stick to the tried and true social media techniques, but try something new and innovative. Doing so will make the other aspects of the campaign more effective and also capture new, previously-unreached audiences.
2) Humanize your brand
One of the most exciting aspects of social media being so widely used in this year’s Olympics is the ability to directly hear from and connect with athletes. Thousands of medal-viers will be sharing their experiences in London straight from their Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and other social media outlets. The International Olympic Committee may have imposed restrictions on what athletes can share, but that isn’t going to stop them from communicating with fans over the web. The IOC has even set up The Olympic Athletes’ Hub for viewers to locate the official social media pages of their favorite competitors.
Just as the Olympics increases fans’ interest by allowing them to personally connect to the individuals involved in the the Games, enhance customers’ connection to your brand by encouraging your employees to become the voice of your company. Individuals are far more relatable than companies, and relatability enhances loyalty. Both Namco Bandai Games and Levi’s, with @Filthierich and @Levisguy respectively, do a great job of giving their brand an individual, personable, engaging representative.
3) Use major events to mobilize your fans
There’s a reason companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sponsor the Olympics: it works. Beyond the immense exposure the Games give these brands, marketing with such a well-beloved event and playing on customers’ current passions increases conversions.
Base campaigns around major events. The Olympics may come just once every two years, but take advantage of other major events in sports, entertainment, and politics, as well as national holidays. Figure out which events are most relevant and important to your target customer base, and play on those. Get your audience pumped up not only about the event but also about your brand.
4) Make your customers VIPs
For perhaps the neatest marketing stunt of the Games, the official electricity supplier to London 2012, EDF Energy, will be hosting a nightly light show on the London Eye. But it’s not just any display – it’s the world’s first social media driven light show. An algorithm will analyze the overall sentiment of that day’s tweets about the Olympics and use it to determine the colors of the lights. Pretty awesome.
The “Energy of the Nation” light show explicitly demonstrates the importance of fans. Customers want to feel like rock stars, so seek ways to highlight your fans in your marketing. Let them share a talent, choose a new product, or affect the results of a campaign. Social media marketing is all about fan participation, so take that even further. Your customers will love the impact they have and be even more likely to continue interacting with and purchasing from your brand.
Have the Olympics inspired your marketing strategies? Have you seen any brilliant Olympics-related campaigns?
As the Olympics approach, we’ll be posting more social media marketing lessons on the Supercool Creative blog. See part two of this article here, and stay tuned!