August 30 2016

Talk the Talk: Connecting with Olympic Fans

Thought Leadership, Olympics

By Simon Wardle

We know that sports fans are increasingly consuming and creating content around their favorite sporting events through digital, social and mobile. An inherent by-product of fans engaging with sports content through social and mobile is the emergence of a new lexicon of fandom. Hashtags and emojis now play an increasingly important role in how fans communicate.

What does that mean for marketers? It means brands need to understand this new language of fandom and how it is being used. That’s where we come in. Octagon and Netbase have teamed up to crunch the numbers from +100M mentions and +90M social posts for Rio 2016 and deliver real advice for marketers as they look ahead and plan their next campaign. Here are the Top 20 emoji’s and the Top 20 hashtags that fans used during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games:

Sports Can Uplift Brands. We live in a world of choice, where consumers can now choose to consume and create content about which they’re passionate. The goodnews for marketers, sports is one of those passions. Despite #LochteGate and #GreenPools, Netbase saw an overall 68% positive sentiment on all Olympic posts. Want to get in on the positivity? Marketers need to consider how to associate their brands with sports properties and athletes through sponsorship, experiential, ambassador and social and digital campaigns.

Fans Want to Celebrate Strength & Success. According to Netbase, Claps, Hands Raised in Celebration, Thumbs Up and Flexed Biceps were among the top emojis used this month. What does it mean? Aligning a brand with sports can give your target audience the opportunity to celebrate success, teamwork and perseverance alongside the brand. And brands should consider using emoji’s in their communications to create messages that embody strength – of mind, body and spirit – to reinforce their campaigns and tap into consumer emotion.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Nationalism. Octagon’s Passion Drivers® research indicates that Nationalism is consistently a top factor in fan passion (and sometimes obsession) with the Olympic Games. Per Netbase, flag waving ranked high in both emoji and hashtag use during Rio. What does it tell us? Social media and live streaming haven’t changed what drives fan passion, consumers are just expressing that passion through a new medium. Marketers are well served to integrate country-specific messaging and support into their overall campaign.

As sports marketers we need to embrace this new lexicon of sports fans and engage them in terms that they can personally relate.

Fans will love it and your brand will as well.