If you were on Twitter today, you probably saw the #GoTeamUSA hashtag flying around. This was just one element of a day-long, multi-channel social media campaign by the US Olympic Team. While you may have just given the news a passing glance, there is a very simple lesson here in social media marketing.
With the Sochi Winter Olympics just two weeks away, Team USA fans were encouraged to submit questions and messages of support, and saw the team's athletes field those questions and respond to the messages throughout the day. #GoTeamUSA quickly trended in the United States as athletes fielded questions on their individual Twitter feeds, and also across the Internet on Google Hangouts. The send-off was also promoted on Facebook.
Let's acknowledge right away that Team USA can do things on social media that small businesses can't. Your campaign probably won't ultimately draw a tweet from the White House, for starters. The Olympics boast a massive consumer following that a B2B company or even smaller B2Cs just aren't able to leverage. That's not to mention that without staff dedicated to it, social media can be a massive timesuck.
All the same, there's a lesson here for any company, even if only an aspirational one.
Here's Where You Need to Pay Attention
While your business at this point has probably recognized the importance of social media and probably even strategizes about it some, many companies see their varied channels as a place to drop links to their website, maybe share some press in which they're mentioned, and promote a sale or deal on their products. Maybe you've tried to get a hashtag started to promote yourself, but those efforts usually fall flat without a big following. Maybe--maybe--you've done a little social customer service.
But Team USA's sendoff reminded the Internet of how social media really can be what it claims to be: social. By giving fans the opportunity to interact with the athletes they'll be cheering on in Sochi, Team USA broke down the boundaries that social media is capable of breaking down.
Yes, athletes create a little more demand for interaction than an accountant or a salesman might. That's worth acknowledging. But a restaurant owner might get some fun hosting a Twitter chat with its chef, and even B2B products are sure to have their superfans who might love the opportunity to really interact with the brand.
It's not all about Q&A sessions and hashtags, either. That's just howTeam USA generated some social hype around its athletes today. The point is that social media has the power it does because it allows for real interaction between company and customer--and not just as another place to send out your message.