Current Events and Social Media Strategy: How to Turn Olympic Fever Into Marketing Gold

As Olympian’s prepped for their events, those of us in the social media world prepped for the world’s “first social Games” due to the huge increase in social media activity since the Beijing Olympics.  In the social media and marketing world, we didn’t quite know what to expect from the 2012 Olympic Games, but like any good athlete, we prepped for the course, prepared a game plan, and hit the ground running. Here are a few key points we try to keep in mind as we prepare for upcoming events that may impact our internet marketing strategy:

Know the Rules, Understand the Arena

The International Olympic Committee prepared for social media use at the Games by creating guidelines for brands, marketers, and even fans. According to the IOC’s guidelines, non-sponsors of the Games are banned from associating their name with the Olympics. Twitter got on board with the regulations, preventing non-sponsors from purchasing promoted tweets or ad space with the hashtag #London2012, #Olympics, and more. Restrictions were even made about the online activity of Olympic Athletes.

Regardless of your feelings about social media restrictions, it is important to understand what they are and why they exist. The last thing you want is an innocent Facebook status that lands your client in a lawsuit with the IOC. When posting about major events or planning online promotions, sweepstakes or deals, check out any guidelines or restrictions on social media platforms before posting.

Create a Game Plan

Although social media tends to move at the speed of light, it is still a smart idea to plan your marketing strategy in advance. Planning posts, topics, and specials advertised on or offered through social media can guarantee that your brand has a fully developed and optimized social media platform. If an event is scheduled or takes place over a set amount of time (i.e. the Olympics, the Oscars, etc.) plan your social posts around the correct timeline. Planning in advance can help your brand be the first to post, or the one with the most well thought out message.

Keep Your Head in the Game

Forward thinking and planning is important when developing a social media strategy, while scheduling can be difficult to maneuver successfully. Scheduling social updates through a third party source such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck always comes with the risk of posting ill-timed content if the unexpected happens, but posting during an international event that is under heavy media scrutiny like the Olympics creates an extra risk. The danger of scheduling social media blasts through a third party is that you run the risk of having your material appear outdated. While this can be embarrassing at the very least, the wrong message at the wrong time can also land your company in hot water or make a brand appear culturally and socially insensitive.

Poorly timed tweets are something we all want to avoid so make sure to plan for general topics or ideas, but check the headlines before posting a status. Whether you’re managing a personal or professional social media platform, posting is something that should never be mindless (unless you’re Steve Martin. Then tweet away and later publish a book with your hilariously irreverent thoughts). Think before you tweet, tumbl, pin, or post and make sure you know what message is being distributed across the internet. Being the one to click “send” may take an extra moment out of your day, but it can also provide peace of mind and prevent fall out for your client.

There’s No “I” In Team

Make sure the messaging stays true to your brand image. Sure, Lochte fever can happen to the best of us (#JEAH), but if your client wouldn’t regularly post about an athlete’s abs or grill, maybe now is not the time to start. Keep your messaging positive and relevant to the brand's image. Social media is a great way to make a brand feel more personal and relatable to your audience and having an opinion will ensure that your messaging is not boring, but being negative, posting off the wall comments, or sparking debate is sure to lose you some fans.

Stay On Your Toes

Plan accordingly, but stay flexible. While every marketer knows to create a social media strategy and stick to a consistent schedule, sometimes you can’t account for life’s surprises. If your company wins an award, or if Team USA takes home the Gold in a Cinderella story, those are the moments where spontaneity is your friend and being flexible in posting is strongly suggested. Social media is supposed to be fun; embrace the surprises, learn from any mistakes, and ultimately go with the flow.

Don’t Be A Spoil-Sport

One of the most important parts of developing a social media strategy is to understand timing. Scooping an important news story and being one of the first to post – great. Giving away the ending to the women’s all-around – terrible. In one case, fans are going to think you’re an expert news source on the pulse of current events. In the other, expect unfriending, unfollowing, and/or hate mail. Don’t be the friend who’s known for blurting out the ending and killing the suspense.

Stick the Landing

Remember that when you distribute a message across social media platforms, you are shaping and reaffirming an online brand image for millions of viewers. Whether it’s a blog post, a news release, or a tweet of 140-characters, make the most of your message. At Inno Garage, we can help you develop a strategic plan to put social media to work and bring home the gold.