How Olympic Athletes Are Using Twitter to Build Their Personal Brands

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Olympic athletes—they’re just like us! No, really. Like PR and marketing professionals, our friends in Sochi are using Twitter to share content that informs, entertains, inspires and even calls followers and fans to action. Though Twitter is just one tool in Team USA’s social media arsenal, it’s provided a cross-section of branding practices we communicators could stand to learn from. Unless you’d rather learn, say, how to survive 50km of cross-country skiing?

Education. Luger Erin Hamlin, bobsled driver Steven Holcomb and ice hockey forward Monique Lamoureaux are just three Olympians who have been educating fans about their sports, the Games and—oh yes—what goes on in Olympic Village. The takeaway? PR pros should aspire to keep their audiences informed and shouldn’t be afraid to provide a transparent, behind-the-scenes look at what they do.



Advocacy. Slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy went viral –even earning a nod from Miley Cyrus—when he posted photos of himself with adorable puppies he intended to adopt. More importantly, he used his social presence and reach to shine a light on Sochi’s stray dog problem, and has inspired many Olympians and non-Olympians to consider pet adoption. The takeaway? With cause-based messages being crucial to today’s brands and important to today’s audiences, PR people should use social handles as an extension to do good.



Engagement. I’m hard-pressed to find a member of Team USA who has used humor and candor to interact with fans in the way that slopestyle snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg has. He relates with his audience, answers fan questions and has even expressed his desire for an Olympic medal made out of bacon. The takeaway? Be real and have fun with it. Twitter is just another platform to tell a story—scrap pretense and don’t be afraid to put a face on the person behind your brand’s Twitter account.



Curation. You want ice dancer Alex Shibutani in your corner. He’s a master of curation—he retweeets the people who influence him, stories that inspire him and he’s not afraid to tell the world how much he loves Jimmy Fallon. Giving props has only reflected positively on his personal brand. The takeaway? Curation is an important component of content strategy. PR pros should leverage curation to establish thought leadership, build credibility and create engagement and awareness.


About Teresa Dankowski

Teresa Dankowski is a content marketing manager at Cision and covers best practices in marketing, PR and social media. She enjoys printmaking, wine, TV and dominating at rec league softball.

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