Rio Olympics: winning social gold

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Rio Olympics: winning social gold
Rio Olympics: winning social gold

With the Rio Olympics less than three months away, digital marketers are getting increasingly anxious about what to do and how to do it. The Olympic Games are one of the most--if not the most--popular sporting events in the world, and that means that there are oodles of eyeballs, ears, and minds for digital marketers to reach via the billions of connected devices across the world.

"Olympics-viewing is an inherently social event," proclaims a recent consumer-behavior study by marketing-platform firm Crowdtap, "[and] Rio 2016 is poised to be the most social Olympics ever."

84 percent of actual Olympic viewing will take place via television screens, according to Crowdtap's February 2016 poll on US residents' Olympic-viewing habits, but most users engage on digital media in real time on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones while they watch television--and data from Google and others show that they pay closest attention to their mobile devices.

Indeed, media reports indicate that live sporting events like the Olympics are becoming cost-prohibitive for traditional television and cable providers, giving social networks and other digital media companies a competitive edge. Driving the point home, Crowdtap's consumer-behavior report explicitly states, "Most viewers plan to catch recaps of events on the official Olympics site or on sports websites like ESPN [but when] it comes to catching up on social chatter, Facebook wins."

Indeed, Crowdtap found that Facebook would be by far the most popular social network for users to engage with others on the Rio Olympics. The firm reports that 86 percent of respondents said that they would use Facebook "for voicing Olympic reactions." The next most-cited social platform, Twitter, came in at a distant 44 percent.

This "social chatter," already prominent on digital marketers' radar for Rio 2016, is extremely important to younger consumers--and Millennials in particular. "Millennials are [two times] more interested in the cultural chatter that surrounds the games than non-Millennials," Crowdtap notes.

While this information buttresses Facebook's importance to marketers during the Rio Olympic Games, Crowdtap's report urges that their brands can find a captive audience of socially "listening" Millennials beyond Facebook and across more nascent, image-based mobile-social networks--specifically highlighting Instagram (which is Facebook-owned), Vine (owned by Twitter), and Snapchat.

This latter mobile tool will prove particularly potent in the digital marketer's arsenal during these Olympics, suggests Crowdtap. Part of the reason may be that Snapchat has partnered with NBC to distribute highlights from the Rio 2016 games--taking advantage of Millennials' multi-screen tendencies and mobile-screen focus.

More importantly, according to Crowdtap, Snapchat has further solidified its position as the choice mobile-social network of Millennials ever since its roll-out of its Discover feature--allowing users to view, read, and flip through a steady stream of content from "top publishers." Crowdtap's polling (which leans on the young side; the average age of its 500 respondents was 36) found that, while only 18 percent of Olympic viewers plan to voice their own Olympic reactions on Snapchat, "Snapchat [has] become [the] de facto social media platform for Millennials and Gen Z." This is especially true of younger Millennials. Crowdtap's data indicates that nearly a third of 18–24 year-olds and nearly one in five 25–34 year-olds intend to share Olympics-related content on Snapchat.

The takeaway, then, is that even if they may not be using the tools to actively voice reactions as much as they might on Facebook, the younger generations will definitely be "listening" on Snapchat.

Accordingly, it will take a multiplicity of social-network outreach methodologies--perhaps anchored by Facebook (and, for younger audiences, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat)--to help ensure the rise of your brand messaging above the vuvuzela-like noise that will be cluttering 2016 Olympic-watchers' screens, earning you real impressions to last long after the closing ceremonies.

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