Who Came in First in the Olympic Games of Social Marketing? A Recap

Since the summer of 2008 there has been explosive growth across the entire social media landscape with Facebook growing from approximately 100 million users in 2008 to more than 900 million in 2012 and Twitter growing from 6 million to 140 million in that same period. 

No wonder the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (and nearly everyone else) has described the 2012 Games as the most “social and tech-savvy Olympics ever,” with analysts predicting a record-breaking 100 million final in terms of number of tweets per second.

As if further proof was needed, the IOC, recognizing the new importance of social media, launched the Olympic Athletes' Hub, a search engine-style website that connected fans to the hundreds of social networking streams of athletes and events on Twitter and Facebook.

For what it’s worth, here are a few athletes that we kept an eye on this past few weeks: 

  • Roger Federer – 10.3 million Fans
  • Usain Bolt – 6.4 million Fans
  • Michael Phelps – 5.1 million Fans
  • Paul Gasol – 2.9 million Fans
  • Yelena Isinbaeva – 72,000 Fans



Another interesting social effort was the Olympic Challenge, a game that awarded points to Facebook users who correctly predicted the winners of various Olympic events. 

Other social media-sharing channels supported by the IOC included Tumblr, Google Plus, and Foursquare, although they were being used as stand-alone options, not connected to the official Athletes' Hub.

One of the more significant signs that the Olympic games were the most social yet was Facebook and NBC’s partnership for the Summer Olympics. People who liked the NBC Olympics page on Facebook had access to exclusive content and the Talk Meter, a new data tool.

In addition to connecting with fans through the page, NBC Olympics  launched an application, where fans could share with friends stories about their favorite athletes or any other NBC Olympics content. The partnership also served as the launch platform for Talk Meter, which informed viewers about stories, results, athletes, and events that other fans of the Olympic Games were talking about on Facebook. So even if you were not on Facebook, you were prompted to log on while watching the Games on TV.

It’s no secret that Big consumer brands have always viewed the Olympics as an opportunity to promote their products/services. In 2008 there was a concentrated effort in paid media; this year it focused on establishing a relationship with their consumers through a powerful combination of social, earned and paid media opportunities. 

  • Facebook was a huge part of that Olympic sponsorship opportunity, as Brands were building campaigns designed to create awareness with their current fans and future potential consumers – men and women alike. 
  • Samsung launched its "U.S. Olympic Genome Project".  "How Olympic Are You?" app, allowing fans to engage in Olympic Triva and post their results on their personal Facebook pages
  • Fans could search for Athletes from their hometowns or who like the similar "interests" as they do.
  • The app incentivized consumer return/engagement with discounted electronics and a trip to the Olympics
  • Facebook was a huge part of that Olympic sponsorship opportunity, as P&G launched a "Thank You Mom" page that included the app "Raising an Olympian", where fans viewed video content and stories of Moms and their Olympian kids, of how they got there. 
  • P&G's intent was that engagement would lead to further traffic to its own Facebook pages for brands like Pampers, Cover Girl. Etc. 

 The Olympics is a global event centered on community and high engagement rates which is why brands have looked to Facebook as the median in which to advertise.

In order for brands to continue being successful with their marketing strategy now that the Olympics are over, thy will need to continue with this winning formula and present content that is capable of generating consumer conversation and viral sharing – that will hold true whether it’s the Olympics or not. 

1 comment about "Who Came in First in the Olympic Games of Social Marketing? A Recap ".
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  1. Eric Schwartzman from, August 16, 2012 at 12:09 p.m.

    What jumped out at me was Google's stat that dual screen viewers watched 52% more TV, no doubt propelled by social. Hopefully, that'll help the IOC and sponsors loosed up their #Rule40 restrictions at the next games. My take -->

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