There were many spectacular moments for sports history at the recently-concluded Sochi Winter Olympics; like Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen winning her record sixth gold medal, German Carina Vogt receiving the gold medal in the first ever Olympic women’s ski jump, and Canadian freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau who dedicated his gold medal to his brother with cerebral palsy. But the athletes weren’t the only ones setting records in Sochi this year. The world also made history in mobile and social media global communications, giving us a true indication of the opportunities available for marketers to connect with their constituencies today.
Next to the World Cup Soccer Finals, the Olympics is one of the most widely viewed sporting events in the world, and tech-consumed fans expect to be up close and personal through video streaming and Tweets and other social posts from their mobile devices. With the arrival of high speed 4G LTE, Sochi in 2014 already had one up on London in 2012, the very first Olympics to offer mobile access and have half of its Web traffic come from mobile devices.
The Sochi Olympics had at least 120,000 devices generating and posting content at the games, and the network was charged with supporting all of this activity at once. Sochi had anticipated this and stepped up its game to meet user demands (marketers, fans and athletes) to stay connected to peers and family across the globe, view video streams of events, schedules, results, medal information, and more.
Considering the increasing number of big brand sponsors using real-time mobile marketing during high profile sporting events like the Olympics, this kind of high speed mobile connection is essential -- and should be a given --for any large venue today to be ready to handle the capacity of visitors and traffic while delivering uninterrupted, high-speed internet access, right? Still, for users back in the states to have instant access to events happening 6,000 miles away and nine hours behind Eastern Standard Time is pretty amazing stuff.
For marketers to win the gold, however, requires the next step in mobile and social engagement through content and conversation that’s relevant and of interest to the user, creating a memorable experience that they’ll want to join and share. Effective content marketing is not a new concept. But these Olympic Games provide an opportunity to look at some of the brands that finished strong in mobile and consider key points as you’re looking to leverage mobile and social technology advancements for increased customer engagement:
Deliver fresh, compelling content that stirs emotion and sparks conversation.
Mobile users love to participate in social media conversations around big events such as the Olympics, a continuing trend we also saw with the Super Bowl. This presents enormous opportunity for marketers to join in and promote their brand and extend their reach into other channels. Social media provides the perfect platform to do this, while mobile ensures that consumers can always be a part of the conversation no matter where they are. There were a few brands that mastered this at the Olympics. For example Visa, the official Olympic sponsor, posted nearly 80,000 times during the games. This creative investment took the form of Tweets, Vines, posts on Tumblr and more. Visa was also consistently included in Twitter’s daily “most-shared Olympic images,” garnering more than 50 thousand retweets and 75 thousand favorites on its 15 featured images. Here’s one example of the type of content Visa shared via Twitter and Vine:
Visa clearly came out on top of brands leveraging mobile capabilities and creating a buzz in social media channels. As seen in this video featuring US athlete Sarah Hendrickson and the Olympic debut of women ski jumping, Visa captivated its audience with an ideal and aspirational storyline that stirred emotion and had a lasting impression. This is how it’s done, people:
Don't be afraid to piggyback on existing content and trends to use to your social and mobile advantage.
One of the athletes who received a good amount of attention on Facebook, Vine and Twitter was Kate Hansen, a young U.S. luger known for her pre-race warm-up dance to Beyonce. She was even featured on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, participating in one of his pranks that stumped the media. In all of the Sochi videos and photos of Kate, she is wearing Nike clothing and holding her iPod. Although not official sponsors of the Olympics, both Nike and Apple were able to play off the fact that this young, “hip” US-Olympian is using/wearing their products. Using athletes to promote product is nothing new for brands. But those that can seize opportunities like this as a way to join in on the conversation surrounding a global event without paying the “hefty” sponsorship fees are true winners in the end.
Build upon Olympic gold with personalized content.
Like good athletes, smart marketers are always looking for ways to improve their performance and results. Sochi made notable strides in mobile and social media accessibility and connectivity, and mobile solutions providers like Tier One client WillowTree Apps believe there’s even greater opportunity for marketers to connect with fans at large Olympic-like events in the future. By leveraging new beacon and predictive mobile technologies, our mobile devices will be able to take on a more proactive role in acquiring important information on the user’s interests and location, which sports venues (or other organizations) can then use to get more personal with the consumer. Through these advanced technologies, organizations and brands have the power to deliver personalized and specific content (i.e., helpful information on athletes or events they’re watching, special offers on ticket sales or concession stands to drive sales) directly to the consumer’s’ mobile device when and where they want. This is just one step closer to improving the consumer relationship -- you're biggest fan of all.
Businesses in every industry stand to benefit greatly by leveraging mobile and social technologies. But no matter which new Olympic event, venue or tool comes your way, the true heroes are those marketers that understand the power of content marketing to create buzz with their audience to the point that these target consumers are willing to engage and share.