The 2012 London Games were referred to far and wide as the "social Olympics." Now, a year and a half later, social media has become all the more ubiquitous, and this year's Winter Games figure to challenge for that crown.
Inc. caught up with Maura Cheeks, the United States Olympic Committee's manager of social-media strategy, to explore the ways Team USA looks to leverage social media during--and after--this year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, which begin later this week.
Recently, Team USA made some noise on social media with a "digital send-off." Across multiple social-media accounts, the USOC hosted Q&As with athletes while also encouraging and curating well-wishes for the stars that used the #GoTeamUSA hashtag.
Cheeks says Team USA plans to encourage fan tweets using the same hashtag during the opening ceremonies, and will share some of the resulting fan-driven content as well.
Inform, Then Engage
Team USA will deal with a familiar issue during these Olympics: Most Americans won't settle in to watch the competitions until they get home from work. With the games taking place in Russia, that means they'll be catching a broadcast several hours old when they tune in.
With a wide and whirling Internet out there, Team USA isn't going to keep results a secret. The social accounts will publish results as they happen (so you might want to avoid them during the morning if you want to avoid spoilers). But they will offer more depth during the broadcast. Athletes will take over the Twitter account, for instance, during prime time to offer analysis and field questions from the fans, as well as offer behind-the-scenes information.
Carrying the Torch
Once the games wrap up, the USOC will want to make sure it doesn't drop entirely out of its fans' lives.
But it also won't want to be too much in their faces, as the next Olympics won't be held until the summer of 2016 in Brazil. Finding that balance is key to maintaining fans' interest without overwhelming them with what will become dated information.
"Keeping fans engaged really comes down to quality over quantity," Cheeks says.
What does quality look like? Cheeks says the USOC accounts, as they slowly transition to previewing the forthcoming Brazil Games and sharing the stories of its hopefuls, will share follow-up stories about some of the stars who are certain to emerge during these Winter Games.