When you control the narrative, you control the story; you also usually win. This is the motto I live by in my 10+ years in Wasserman’s digital group.
If that adage holds true, then Social Media is poised to be the big winner of the 2016 Olympics in Rio as nearly 20% of total time spent online in the U.S. is spent engaging on social media platforms and over 10 billion videos posted daily on both Snapchat and Facebook, worldwide.
The 2016 Rio games will represent the first true social games with Social Media playing Kingmaker and Queenmaker. Brands, athletes and nations will be remembered by memes, gifs, and face-swaps just as much as Gold, Silver and Bronze. My gut tells me that some may even strive for the former.
Social Media will be the true storyteller at the 2016 Rio games – the only thing that may be missing is a Morgan Freeman voiceover.
NBC seems to acknowledge this shift and has partnered with key platforms like Snapchat and Facebook to provide exclusive content. NBC also promises to incorporate Olympic-related content posted by athletes, celebrities and public figures into prime-time TV coverage like never before. However, none of the content will be live footage of actual games. If only Tyler Durden could meet with the NBC execs and tell them, “Stop trying to control everything and just let go!”
Despite the lack of live footage from the actual games, I am very much looking forward to the stories that social media will tell from Rio.
Here are my six most intriguing social media storylines everyone should be following during the 2016 Rio Games:
Battle of the Hashtags
According to a recent study by Research Now, 82% of people will follow Twitter to get their Olympics related information. Twitter is still ranked No. 1 when it comes to a live connection to sports so get ready for 17 days of glorious hashtag battles
Video, video and more video on Facebook & Instagram
- NBC has partnered with Facebook and Instagram to deliver a healthy diet of 20 short-form videos per day including a daily two-minute recap show exclusively on Facebook plus a daily slow-motion video of inspiring moments exclusively on Instagram.
- NBC is also leveraging Facebook Live to stream interviews of athletes accompanied by NBC’s on-air correspondents at the “Social Command Center.”
- There will even be a dedicated late-night show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, which highlights the most buzzworthy content on Facebook and Instagram from that day. The algorithm never forgets.
- Essentially a copycat of Snapchat, Instagram’s strategic launch of Stories cannot be overlooked. Having Rio basically serve as your “coming out party” is a tremendous opportunity for the brand to shine. Will they rise to the top? Will they stay rooted in artistic imagery that has made Instagram what it is?
- Influencers as Analysts
- In a strategic attempt to engage 12-34 year-olds, NBC is partnering with leading social influencers to create promotional content to drive interest in the Games. Move over Bob Costas and Dick Enberg, time to make room for YouTube royalty like The Fine Brothers, iJustine and Flula.
Copywriting Tap Dancing
- Rule 40 states that only approved Olympic sponsors can utilize ‘Olympic-related terms’ in social media posts between July 27 and August 24. Given the exhaustive list of prohibited terms such as Rio, Gold, Performance, Challenge, Summer, Games, Victory, and Olympics, there is sure to be some creative copywriting from brands trying to support their athletes.
Olympics Snapchat channel powered by Buzzfeed
- In a genius move, NBC is tapping Buzzfeed’s video team to create up to 20 pieces of unique Olympic content per day that will live exclusively on NBC’s Snapchat Discover channel. NBC’s unparalleled access combined with Buzzfeed’s creative content makes Snapchat the social media frontrunner for gold in Rio.
After digesting all of this, it’s safe to say that the Games in Rio will be a multi-screen event like never seen before. Now all I need to do is find all my devices and chargers as I’ll be tuning in with at least four screens for the entire two weeks.
This post was written by Wasserman’s Vice President, Social Media & Digital Zack Sugarman. He can followed at @zsugs.