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Social Sochi: Social Media Takes Gold at the Olympics

This is a guest post by Jeff Bliss. Jeff is President of The Javelin Group and  Senior Vice President of Partnerships for DC2024 and will speak at Demand Success 2014.

Sports fans are often the most passionate, loyal consumers a brand can hope to attract. They are typically active users of social media and early adopters of new technology if it enhances their engagement with their favorite team or athlete, and they are willing to pay a premium for this enhanced experience.

Sochi Olympics Social Media

Brands have learned how to leverage sports to drive authentic engagement with these fans and consumers/customers.

The Sochi Olympic Games are a great example of the power of sport. Both fans and athletes of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games have made an impression on social media platforms across the globe, with compelling athletes’ performances and stories told across multiple platforms in the first week of the Games. For example:


The total International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) fan base from social media platforms worldwide is 33.9 million. In addition to 1 million new likes on the IOC’s Facebook page, the social media giant reported that 24 million people talked about these Olympics on Facebook during the first week of competition. On Twitter, the Olympics had 6.5 million mentions during that same period. Overall, 1.2 billion impressions were noted on IOC Facebook and Twitter accounts in the past 30 days.

Social Networks

The Russian social network VKontakte (VK) has 60 million monthly active users, and roughly 12 million of those users connected with the Olympics in the first week of competition to account for 17 million mentions.

On the Chinese social network, Sina Weibo, the IOC’s account grew by nearly 850,000 fans during the first week of the Games, and there were nearly 12.5 million mentions that included “#sochi2014.”


Many of the 1,500 current Olympians, as well as 6,000 former athletes, used the Olympic Athletes’ Hub app to engage with one another as well as fans by sharing their experiences via photographs or comments. There were more than 40,000 updates via the Olympic Athletes’ Hub in the first week, ranging from stray puppy adoptions to “a day in the life” photo documentaries.


Lee Sang-Hwa - Visa - Social Media OlympicsSponsors of the Sochi Olympics used significant digital and social media to develop a longer tail for the event to capture their fans before, during and following the event. Visa’s digital congratulatory campaign has developed 20 celebratory posts for 12 athletes since the Games began. The posts collectively have garnered 14 million worldwide interactions — likes, retweets and other engagements.

A graphic featuring Korean Olympian Lee Sang-hwa received 45,000 likes on Facebook; a Japan-signed Sara Takanashi image was one of the top-tweeted images in the country, with 4,425 retweets and 3,257 favorites; and a ski-jumping Vine video that the Visa team made was viewed more than 500,000 times. Overall, the campaign has earned:

 216 earned media impressions 
 14 million social and digital interactions
 15 million YouTube and Facebook video views

U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC)

The USOC sold out of its entire digital advertising inventory for the Sochi Games and delivered more than 16.2 million page views during the first 10 days of the Olympics, nearly as much as the 17 million total page views that it netted from the ’10 Vancouver Games and ’12 London Games combined.

The USOC’s Twitter audience more than doubled from 270,000 before the Opening Ceremony to 580,000, and the number of Facebook likes and shares it has received, which is multiplied by how many people see those likes and shares, jumped from 400,000 to 4.5 million.

USOC - Twitter- Social Media Olympics

The USOC’s digital platforms are getting twice as much traffic from tablets and phones (10.9 million page views) as they are from computers (5.3 million page views). The USOC said that these increases are a result of modifying the app to emphasize athlete information.

NBC Universal

NBC Universal will make a profit on its $875 million investment in Sochi, partly by relying more on video distribution via Twitter and Facebook designed to draw viewers to their TV sets.

During London 2012, people who watched the games on multiple devices also tended to watch more, averaging 8 hours and 29 minutes of viewing a day compared with 4 hours and 19 minutes for TV-only viewers. The network is increasing the hours being live-streamed by 42 percent and encouraging people to set their DVRs directly through Twitter.

NBC streamed 1,000 hours of events live from Sochi, up from 700 in London and more than the total for the Vancouver 2010 and Turin 2006 Winter Games combined. The web clips will run alongside 500 hours of broadcast and cable coverage, and 200 hours of video-on-demand on pay TV.

Want to hear more from Jeff and other great speakers? Register for Demand Success 2014 now!

Image: Atos International

Tags : Social Media

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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