The flame is now out for the London 2012 Olympics but the lessons learned by PR, marketing and communications firms will have a lasting impact for the industry. So what can engineering, technology and electronics companies take away from the media consumption of the Olympic Games?
The size and influence of mobile and social media is still underestimated.
It is much bigger than you think. Twitter estimates more than 50 million Olympic tweets reaching 80,000 per minute when Usain Bolt won gold. Viewing figures reached 900 million worldwide across all media. According to the BBC Mediacentre, it has delivered its “most successful online event ever, attracting a record-breaking 55m global browsers to BBC Sport online (cumulative reach) throughout the course of the Games, and marking London 2012 as the first truly digital Games.” It was also truly mobile with 1.9m downloads of BBC’s Olympics mobile app for iOS and Android smartphones and 40% of browsers accessing BBC’s Olympics coverage from a mobile at weekends (30% during the week) – averaging 34% per day. For an overview of the stats, have a look at the BBC Internet Blog.
Worldwide television networks were surprised at the impact of social and online media on traditional media consumption figures.
“It was the great unknown,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports. “We believed it would be a positive for us, and people would dialogue about the games even if they knew the outcomes. But every day in social media is a learning experience, not just for us but for every business. Yeah, I think maybe we did underestimate it.”
Extraordinary people and extraordinary events attract an extraordinary amount of attention.
If a message is worth spreading, it will spread. The numbers above are a testament to this.
The biggest stories are not planned.
#dangleboris, #NBCfail and the G4S debarcle could not have been anticipated. Boris Johnson’s mishap on a zipwire spawned a host of photoshopped images and thrives as a meme.
For more dangleboris images check out www.fastofreate.com
Audiences do not behave as expected and campaigns can backfire.
Visa’s Global Cheer social media campaign, featuring Morgan Freeman was not a great success. Tweeters were engaged but talked about Morgan Freeman rather than mentioning the brand. Mentions of Visa were mostly negative as people complained about not being able to use other brands of credit card at Olympic events, as a result of Visa’s exclusivity deal. See how some other brands fared here.
So what does this mean for Technology PR?
Conduct risk assessments before launching any technology PR campaigns on social media. Once an electronics or engineering company’s message is out there it cannot be taken back, buried or blocked. Heavy-handed attempts to silence tweeters and Facebookers will not be tolerated by the public.
The public is powerful and will use media as they see fit. Your message will be corrupted, the trick is to exploit this not attempt to control it.
Be alert throughout the life of a campaign and ready to respond to its development in the hands of the public.
Know your social media law. IP and copyright law regarding the reuse of publicly generated content is a minefield that can be avoided with an understanding of Creative Commons and a knowledge of the terms and conditions of the major social media sites. Sharing is usually free and encouraged until you start doing it for commercial gain. Proper attribution and use of permissions and disclaimers is essential.
Have messages worth sharing. Create extraordinary scenarios and events that encourage favorable comments and sharing across networks, rather than creating and posting all the content your self. The Royal Mail’s golden postbox and winners’ stamp campaign was a huge success and provided the offline incentive for enthusiastic coverage across all media, traditional and online as medal winners excitedly talked about their stamps and the public shared pictures of their local golden post boxes. Look for unusual uses of your own products and services and make this available to your public or market for filming or photographing. With a little inventiveness technology firms could generate the kind of memes so popular on www.interestingengineering.com, www.instagram and www.pinterest.com
Finally, have a look at the Wall Street Journals round up of their top 5 Social Media Takeaways. The memes and tweets we will remember from London 2012