Photo Credit: pixabay
Even before the Summer Games started in Rio, TIME magazine said that social media would ultimately define the Olympics’ success. Unlike previous Summer Olympics, which have been primarily a shared television spectacle, these Rio Olympics seem to have unfolded live in our social media news feeds instead of on TV. Here are just three quick social media takeaways from the Rio Olympics:
1. Get ready to have your brand bullied
If you’ve been following the saga around U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, it’s clear that brands and celebrities don’t control their social media image anymore, everyday people do. The example of Gabby Douglas is a stark reminder of what can happen on social media – people made fun of her hair, her smile and the way she cheered on her teammates. They accused her of being unpatriotic and bitter and called her a sore loser.
That’s tough to take for a 20-year-old kid, and it’s just as tough to take for a 20-year-old brand. But that’s the reality these days – any message you put out on social media, any image you post, is now fair game. It’s a two-way street: it feels great when the crowd is with you, but it hurts deeply when you just can’t seem to stay on-message without fans beating you up.
2. Find ways to embrace fleeting memes
We already knew that Michael Phelps was one of the greatest Olympians in U.S. history, but what we didn’t know was that his “game face” is just stone cold lethal. Just Google #PhelpsFace to see how a single screenshot of a glowering Michael Phelps became an iconic image for many on social media. The lines that people came up with on Twitter to describe the #PhelpsFace are just classic (e.g. “When they tell you the guacamole is extra #PhelpsFace”).
Oh, and did you see the insane Usain Bolt meme, where the famous Jamaican sprinter is literally running away from the competition and then turns around mid-race with a giant smile on his face? That also spawned its fair share of memes. Some have even suggested that the happy, upbeat Usain Bolt meme is going to be far more popular than the #PhelpsFace.
3. Don’t be afraid to push unconventional hashtags
For some #hashtags are starting to feel played out, to the point where people have replaced the traditional “air quotes” with “hashtag” when talking about their lives. But some brands sponsoring the Olympics found that you can still get a lot of brand awareness mileage out of the clever hashtag.
Yes, a simple hashtag like #thatsgold from Coca-Cola did very well online. However, Adweek did a quick survey of which brands were absolutely killing it in Rio, and singled out the automaker Nissan for having the third-most popular hashtag at the entire Summer Olympics. And, no, it didn’t involve #cars. Instead, the hashtag was #quemseatreve, which in Portuguese can be translated as “he who dares” (quem se atreve). That’s a fantastic way of paying homage to the Games being hosted in Brazil, a Portuguese-speaking country.
One thing is clear – social media is a very powerful storytelling platform, especially for shared spectacles like the Summer Olympics. People may not consume the action of the Olympics on social media, but that’s where the narratives start and the stories end.