In the months leading up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) enacted an innovative multi-lingual, multi-platform social media strategy that delivered unparalleled success across the globe – particularly in the Games’ home country of Russia.
Given that it established its first ever social media presence in 2009, the IOC has come a long way in a short time. After initially only engaging with social media in English, the IOC now makes social media updates in French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Korean, with plans to soon add Japanese, Arabic and more.
The IOC also now runs official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr, Google plus, Flickr, Sina Weibo, Youku, Youtube, and, crucially for the Sochi games, BKOHTAKTE (Vk.com), Russia’s most popular social media platform.
20% of the 100 million monthly active users on VK platform have engaged with the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, and were responsible for 17 million mentions of the Games on VK during the first week of competition. With 2.7 million fans, the IOC's Olympic page on VK has become the most popular official community page in the world among Russian-speaking fans
“We do try to give each platform a unique voice, which depends on the inherent feature of the platform. Whenever possible we try to share regional content using the built-in features of social media websites.” - Alex Huot, Head of Social Media at the International Olympics Committee.
For example, the IOC is using Facebook’s geo-targeting capabilities and will soon test Twitter’s new update, which enables brands to target fans by country. The IOC also uses tools including as SocialBro to segment and analyse its Twitter following.
For the Sochi Games, the IOC also extended and enhanced the functionality of the dedicated social media portal it originally created for the 2012 London Games: the Olympic Athlete’s Hub.
A free mobile app (available to download for Android or iOS) the Olympic Athlete’s Hub acts as a searchable directory of the social media activities of Olympic athletes, both past and present. Fans can also use the app to connect with the Olympians, while the athletes themselves can text each other and the IOC directly, and vice versa. Using the Hub’s search function, users can locate athletes by country, team, sport, or edition of the Games.
For Sochi 214, a dedicated News Stream of Sochi Olympians has been created to provide fans and athletes with a unique view of what competitors are posting. With 1,500 Sochi 2014 Olympians and over 6,000 Olympians from past Games, the Olympic Athletes' Hub has become the reference point for connecting with athletes in social media.
“Social Media, for an organization like the IOC, is not an easy thing to get right and I actually think that they are doing an amazing job. Their timelines are superb and by massively boosting direct engagement with Olympians, the stars of any Olympics, they have captured the attention and imagination of sports lovers across the globe.” – Javier Burón, SocialBroA conversation of Olympic proportions is taking place on the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s social media platforms, thanks in large part to a rapidly growing presence in the home country of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Russians are some of the most engaged people in the world when it comes to social media, spending, according to some accounts, over six hours a month on Russian social network VKontakte (VK) alone. And they are loving their first social media Games. Twenty per cent of the 100 million monthly active users on the platform engage with the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, and were responsible for 17 million mentions of the Games on VK during the first week of competition.
With 2.7 million fans, the IOC's Olympic page on VK has become the most popular official community page in the world among Russian-speaking fans. Thousands of Russians have been cheering for their athletes, and the IOC has been sharing their photos live in the Medals Plaza and at other live sites across Russia. It is the first time that user-generated content has been shared within an Olympic venue.
“We’re extremely pleased with the numbers,” said IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams. “The IOC’s presence on social media has grown incredibly quickly since the start of Sochi 2014, especially here in Russia, and this is partly due to the rise in mobile use around the world.”
Olympic Athletes’ Hub
The Olympic Athletes' Hub recorded over 40,000 updates from Olympians, teams and National Olympic Committees in the first week of the Games. Olympians have been engaging in fun and interactive ways by taking photos and sharing them on social media. Over 1,700 photos have been taken at the Games so far and can be viewed on facebook.com/olympics. With 1,500 Sochi 2014 Olympians and over 6,000 Olympians from past Games, the Olympic Athletes' Hub has become the reference point for connecting with athletes in social media.
The Hub has been receiving great praise from the athletes in Sochi. “The app is awesome,” said US hockey player Brianna Decker. “It is easily accessible and a great way for Olympians to connect with other Olympians and have fans connect with Olympians. It’s also great to have thousands of Olympians involved with this app and know that they are truly who they claim to be.” “When we use the Hub we know that these Olympians’ accounts are real and we are certain who we follow is the real deal,” said Norwegian figure skater Anne Line Gjersem, echoing Decker’s comments about the fact that accounts of the Olympians on the Hub are all verified to protect against fakes.
Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo
In the lead-up to the Games, the IOC's Facebook page grew by more than 2 million fans. In the first seven days of the Games the page gained close to 1 million new fans. During the same period, Facebook reported that 24 million people were talking about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games on its platform. The IOC Twitter account, meanwhile, has added 1 hundred thousand new followers since the start of the Games. According to Hootsuite, 6.5 million mentions of the Olympic Games were made on Twitter during the first week of competition.
In the past 30 days, 1.2 billion impressions have been recorded on IOC-led accounts on
Facebook and Twitter.
There has been great interest surrounding Sochi 2014 in other parts of the world as well. In China, for example, the IOC's Sina Weibo account grew by 849,752 fans, and there were almost 12.5 million mentions of the hashtag sochi2014 during the first week alone.
The total global fan base of the IOC now stands at 33.9 million subscribers.
IOC Twitter performance over the last 6 months
Overall follower increase = 20%
Increase in influential followers = 42%
Increase in famous people = 70%
Number of rerweets, favorites and mentions in the last 6 months:
o 84,210 retweets
o 104,009 favorites
o 119,064 mentions
Most successful tweets:
1) They are back! Let's give a RT to Team Jamaica! @sochi2014 #olympics http://t.co/8KGBEFFp6f
4.49M Potential Reach
2) One Day TO GO! #Olympics #Sochi2014 http://t.co/5wTLf6U52w
4.8M Potential Reach
3) Sochi by night. #olympics http://t.co/HLWXqHqDQ1