Aug 8 '14
There’s no denying (unless you ask Usain Bolt) the 2014 Commonwealth Games, held in Glasgow, were a roaring success, not only for the athletes but also for the brands involved. The use of social media played an important role in creating a buzz around the games and was a key tool in the marketing campaigns of many businesses.
Elephant Creative blogger and associate, Nikki Bruce takes a brief sprint round some (but not all) of the ways social media became a key component of the 2014 Commonwealth Games 2014.
Let’s start out by talking about hashtags. They played a big part in everything social at The Games. The organisers used hashtags as a brilliant way of generating interest in the event before it had even begun. The hashtag #50DTG was adopted and used by the Commonwealth Games team as a way to count down to the event (as well as being supported by a complete campaign of competitions designed to build buzz, engagement and following – and even to encourage people to register for newsletters and buy their branded merchandise nice and early…). Athletes frequently used the hashtag to promote their participation in the games, as shown on the Team Scotland twitter account below.
Businesses also used the #50DaysToGo hashtag as a way of ‘piggy back marketing’, using the games to promote their own products or services. An example of this in action can be seen on the Athletics Weekly Twitter page. Through using the #50DaysToGo hashtag, Athletics Weekly was able to join in the conversations taking place on Twitter and promote their magazine at the same time.
Although not originating from the marketing team of the Commonwealth Games, a hashtag that gained huge amounts of traction during the event was the #Commonwealthie. A play on the term ‘selfie’, the #Commonwealthie hashtag was used by visitors to share pictures of themselves at the events and was even adopted by many of the athletes themselves and even some celebrities. Usain Bolt said of the selfie trend at the Games, “This new thing about selfies… they are really making the lap of honour long.” (The Guardian Blog: 2014), as many of the athletes were asked to pose for selfies with fans.
The organisers of the Games gave 14 bloggers an opportunity to contribute to the ‘Social Games’. This was a competition launched to find ‘Team 14’, a collective of influential bloggers to “contribute to the Games as excitement builds”. The bloggers were invited to launch events and asked to write about the Games as they were unfolding, becoming a social news source for the online community. Importantly through this work they were able to drive traffic through to the other social media channels being used and help to link up the official ‘corporate’ face of the Games with the people – thereby really hammering home the brand values of inclusivity and ‘friendliness’.
But all good social media needs a central ‘destination and this is where the 2014 Games came into their own. There was a designated ‘Social Hub’ section of the website that acted as a centre for all social activity around the Games. The Social Hub was a way of curating content by collecting posts that used certain hashtags. For example #Glasgow2014, #BringItOn and #BestGamesEver were all popular hashtags used throughout the commonwealth 2014 games. The Social Hub collected posts from various platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, giving a broad overview of social activity around the games and a snapshot of popular opinion, news and events at any one time during the event. The layout of the hub is also clear and easy to scan due to the way it has been set out in tiles, reminiscent of existing social networks like Instagram and Pinterest.
The Social Hub of the Glasgow Games made the conversations taking place quickly and easily accessible, increasing engagement.
Building engagement and following
Not satisfied with a pretty amazing Social Hub, the various social profiles of the Games were also promoted across the channels – building engagement and following. For example, on the official Facebook page there was an app allowing users to sign up for newsletter updates and also an app for an Instagram feed showing the latest images and similarly Pinterest. This reminded followers that they were active across different social platforms and encouraged them to follow the various profiles, thereby allowing the organisers to use the platforms for different purposes and content.
Although many of the members of the social media team were involved in London 2012, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has been the first event of its kind to really embrace social media in the way that it has. It has clearly been thought about strategically and as a whole, rather than being a [Usain} bolt-on Twitter feed. Social channels were used as a way of spreading and promoting the core aim of the games, which was to create an atmosphere of inclusion. There are some valuable lessons and examples to be learnt from studying the social media tactics used by the Games organisers and the businesses involved.