Sports fans rejoice: The Summer Games are officially underway in Tokyo, Japan.
But this year’s event looks clearly different than it does in Rio and London. Due to COVID-19 protocols, spectators are not allowed in stadiums and athletes must wear masks whenever they are not competing. And to minimize contact, podium winners are asked to place the medals around their necks themselves.
The changes inspired by the pandemic don’t seem to dampen fans ’excitement about socially distant games. Viewers tell on Twitter what events they expect the most and what they think of the athletes ’performances.
In the Olympics, I think before every event, there should only be an ordinary person who shows how phenomenal the Olympics are.
– Laura Lexx (@lauralexx) July 27, 2021
Using Advanced listening to Sprout Social, we analyzed more than 4.4 million tweets from July 1, 2021 to August 3, 2021 to learn more about how brands and fans are using social engagement from several thousand miles away.
The opening is full of conflicting emotions
After the year we’ve all had, it should come as no surprise that the 2020 games started unsteadily.
The mood surrounding the games remained stable, 43% positive and 23% negative (34% neutral), before swaying sharply to negative on July 8, the day it was announced that viewers would not be allowed. The Japanese audience was equally vocal in their opposition to the games, and many were concerned that a flood of athletes from other countries could lead to a superspreader.
Still, fans around the world are eager to tune in to their favorite events with streaming services that increase the audience’s audience. NBC’s viewership grew steadily over the first three days of play, with a large proportion of views coming from the online streaming service, Peacock.
Bring fans behind the scenes
With COVID restrictions, social networks and brands are more effective in bringing fans as close to games as possible. Spectators may not be allowed in stadiums to encourage their favorite athletes, but they are on social media at all times. A constant stream of interactive or behind-the-scenes content can help keep fans interested no matter where they are.
To draw fans to the latest results and highlights, basketball analyst LaChina Robinson and former skater Adam Rippon host #TalkinTokyo every morning on Twitter to report on the previous day’s events.
Livestream platforms like Twitch further narrow the gap between fans and games through highlights, streaming contests and Q&A sessions with athletes. To start the opening ceremony, e.g. NBC and Twitch created an interactive game for streamers before boiler lighting. There are also partnerships in summer games Snapchat and Now this curate daily stories, video profiles, and a series of athlete-focused video content.
Join the right conversations
The charm of summer games is part of the knowledge of the lives of athletes competing on the world’s largest stage. For brands, the key to joining the debate is knowing who the athletes will partner with, and using your forum will strengthen their voice.
Consider the partnership between Athletan and Allyson Felix that comes at a time when mother of athletes had to make a difficult decision to leave his family to compete in Tokyo. Together with the champion of athletics, the clothing company unveiled the first of its kind scholarship program designed to cover the childcare costs of athletes ’mothers. Of the 2,445 tweets discussing the newly established Power of She Fund, 51% of all posts were registered as positive, while 31% were neutral and 18% negative.
Allyson Felix and Athleta have unveiled the Power of She Fund, a scholarship that covers the cost of childcare for mothers of athletes.
The first program of its kind commits $ 200,000 in favor.
The first six recipients heading to Tokyo will each receive $ 10,000. pic.twitter.com/7Si8kXl22t
– Front Office Sports (@FOS) July 8, 2021
Calm, a meditation and sleep app # 1, took a similar approach when he played a social discussion with a gymnast Goat, Simone Biles. The gymnast has mastered much of the Tokyo conversation, and the total number of posts has exceeded 89,964 tweets since the games began. Since Biles decided to withdraw from the team and individual events, the term “mental health” has been used in conversation with Biles in more than 8,970 tweets.
For Calm, the decision to participate in the Biles debate seems appropriate. The app spoke earlier in defending top tennis player Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritize her own mental well-being and encourage her to normalize her mental health. Calm not only thanked Biles for his actions, but also donated a $ 30,000 donation to the Women’s Sports Foundation in his honor.
What @Simone_Biles Tokyo took more strength and courage than any of his gold medals ever asked of him.
This is bigger than sports.
Whenever an “over-human” athlete recognizes his or her humanity and normalizes the prioritization of mental health, we all benefit. pic.twitter.com/LQjTksqeGx
– Calm (@calm) July 27, 2021
Focus on the cultural nuance
Speaking to an international audience is no small achievement, especially given all the subtle differences that make each culture unique.
Non-recognition of these cultural nuances leads to racist behavior and discrimination. Before the start of the summer Games, Twitter was full of discussions about discriminatory practices, targeting people like black athletes in particular. Sha’Carri Richardson and Black swimmers with natural hair.
Brands also need to be careful about the images, iconography, and typography they use when speaking to a global audience. The use of elements of a particular culture can lead cultural allocation when you use “chop Suey“Font when referenced Asian athletes is offensive to Asian cultures.
On the other hand, brands that strive to embrace and embody the uniqueness of each culture are celebrated for their work. Toyota’s latest ad featuring Alexa Moreno, the first Mexican gymnast to win a world championship, was well received with respect for Moreno’s cultural heritage.
This may be my favorite Olympic ad. Toyota USA, which is a Mexican gymnast and hits all the high notes of culture. ❤️ https://t.co/UiAJy1k1bE
– Sara Toussaint😷💉🇺🇸🇵🇷🇵🇸🗝🍉 (@SaraToussaint) July 28, 2021
Especially at both an international event and summer games, it is imperative that brands take a moment to assess how diverse the public interprets their content. Bringing different perspectives to the beginning of the content creation process and asking for feedback can help brands avoid social cultural mistakes.
The best teams win
The Tokyo Summer Games were always forced to offer the well-being celebrations and submissive stories that fans miss as athletes compete on the world’s biggest stage. The only difference this year is how these moments are brought to viewers, and the best fan experiences begin and end socially.
Whether you’re preparing to host the world’s biggest sporting competition or your next local event, social needs must be at the heart of your marketing strategy. If you want to learn more about leveraging social issues to keep the toughest fans interested, check out our guide to everything social media video marketing.