Olympic Hashtags – Who took the Gold Medal and what did we learn?
Brands love hashtags. Many don’t understand them, but that doesn’t stop them. They’ll hashtag anything, even if it makes no sense whatsoever. I like to look at a hashtag as the social media equivalent of a camp fire story.
Something people can connect with, something that invites the continuation of a story or perhaps even starts a new one.
Getting it right is tough. Especially if you’re a brand. Many make the foolish mistake of thinking a hashtag has to be about the brand to deliver any value. Others think you can make it about an irrelevant strapline no one cares about. Others, like Nike, absolutely 110% get it.
It’s not about your brand, it’s about the people who love your brand. It’s about building the conversation around an affinity point your customers can connect with. #MakeItCount was a genius piece of hashtaggery. Forget all the fines they received in the aftermath (heaven forbid kids are subliminally encouraged to have goals)… they built a campaign around bettering yourself as a person; they created a hashtag that worked as an offline stand alone. It’s as synonymous with Nike as the word ‘simples’ is with Compare the Market.
So with the Olympics landing in London this year, it was the turn of social marketeers to have their own hashtag gold medal moment. Could the takeaway catchphrase of the Olympics be a hashtag rather than a strapline from a billboard poster or a TV advert? Well, let’s investigate firstly which of the top sponsors even bothered.
- Dow: N/A
- Panasonic: N/A
- BP: N/A
- Lloyds TSB: N/A
Now it’s clear why some of the above didn’t run a Twitter campaign around the Olympics. Some of the offerings aren’t exactly sporty. Some companies had ties to horrendous chemical disasters. Some just didn’t seem to fancy it or perhaps missed a trick!
- GE: #GELights
- Omega: #startmeup
- Visa: #VisaGoWorld
- P&G: #thankyoumom
- Samsung : #Samsung2012
- Adidas: #Takethestage #Stagetaken
- BMW: #GoldenBMW
- British Airways: #HomeAdvantage
- EDF: #energy2012
The above brands were the companies I could find an Olympic hashtag for. When running them through Radian 6, here is how they fared:
So as you can see, with a whopping 56.6% (113,957) of the Olympic share of the voice, Adidas romped home with their two hashtags #takethestage and #stagetaken.
Was that a successful campaign? Well, in comparison to the other Olympic brands, certainly. However, in the grand scheme of things, over the course of a two week period, it’s questionable. The #London2012 hashtag received 6,500,000 mentions and #TeamGB picked up 2,800,000.
Maybe it’s unfair to compare event and team hashtags, so let’s look at Nike and that #MakeItCount hashtag. Over New Year, that managed to garner 123,000 mentions over a fraction of the time, during a holiday season not usually associated with sporting endeavours.
Nike vs Adidas Olympic Hashtag Mentions
Over the Olympics they used the hashtag #FindYourGreatness (remincent of ‘Just Do It’). I recorded mentions of that and #MakeItCount as Adidas had two hashags. The result was a pretty even split, not encouraging if you’re the show piece sports brand for the Olympics.
British Airways, for an airline, did an exceptional job of coming in second. Their campaign in the UK was built around staying home and not flying. #HomeAdvantage picked up 43,000 mentions, not bad for an company who don’t boast any athletes on their books. Visa did a pretty good job earning any noise out of the awkward #VisaGoWorld. Usain Bolt may have helped progress there…
Brands that didn’t do so well according to the research were Omega. Their #Startmeup which is hijacked from a Rolling Stones song, was sadly, rejacked by Rolling Stones fans. There was almost zero interest in that campaign. P&G and their #thankyoumom hashtag faced similar problems. Justin Bieber fans took an unrelated like to it as did American kids in general. In the UK, they certainly missed a trick because we don’t spell mum with an ‘O’. A hashtag you can’t track because of non-brand noise completely defeats the object of having a campaign identifier.
General Electric deserve a mention for their more artistic approach to an Olympic hashtag. They asked followers to submit imagery of their favourite lighting at the Olympics. It tied back to their business and it produced some great pictures, but it clearly wasn’t designed for the masses.
So what have the Olympics taught us about hashtags? Well, firstly, people don’t care too much for brands when they’re watching their country pick up gold medals. The biggest success stories were based around a country’s teams or the overarching Olympic hashtag.
Out of the 18 top sponsors for the Olympics, only 50% elected to run an Olympic hashtag, of those 50%, 3 brands stole 93.5% share of the Olympic Hashtag voice. Total mentions of brand hashtags was about 160,000, which equated to 2% of the share of voice when compared to the #London2012 and #TeamGB hashtag. In short… brands have a long way to go before they’re truly deemed part of the conversation when it comes to global events and some brands accept they don’t want to be part of the conversation, they’re just happy to be a part of it.
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