Lessons for Event Marketers from the 2016 Summer Olympics


While planning and producing an experience similar to the 2016 Summer Olympics isn’t something most of us do, as you watch the Games this year, consider these key lessons to inspire your next event program.

Go Global with Your Social Media Marketing

Over the last several Olympics, social media has changed how millions engage and interact with the Games. And it’s no different for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Organizers have been building anticipation and excitement by giving day-to-day updates about the worldwide travels of the #OlympicFlame, providing event schedules and destination information for those traveling to Rio, and sharing athlete profiles and inspirational videos. Hundreds of athletes, experts and journalists are also sharing their perspectives on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Event Marketing Lessons:

- It’s a given that social media should be part of your event strategy. Give content a fresh update by making it more visual. For example, almost every single tweet on the official @Rio2016_en channel includes a compelling image or video paired with emojis and hashtags.

- Try different channels to reach new audiences. The number of Olympic viewers between the ages of 12 and 17 increased 25% from the 2008 Beijing Games to the 2012 London Games. This year, NBC is partnering with BuzzFeed to produce special 2016 Summer Olympics content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other apps to hopefully continue that trend.

Provide New Ways to Participate in Your Event

Compared to other Olympics, this year time zone differences and delays won’t be as much as a factor for U.S. fans. Yet fans don’t have to wait until primetime TV coverage to watch their favorite sports. Thanks to NBC’s new mobile app, viewers can watch over 4,500 hours of live streamed coverage via their computers, tablets or mobile devices. Live stream coverage even kicked off a few days earlier than the official start of the Olympics.

Event Marketing Lessons:

- Incorporate second screen strategies to boost impressions and engagement. Out of the 3.6 billion global viewers expected to watch the Olympic Games on television, 3.06 billion will do so while holding a mobile device in their hands.

- Find ways to share real-time video content. Both Facebook Live and Periscope offer ample opportunities to drive buzz, reach new people and give attendees access to content that extends the life of your event.

- Use virtual reality (VR) to give users a chance to experience something they’re unlikely to experience in the real world. Through the NBC Sports app, viewers can also watch up to 85 hours of Olympic coverage in VR. Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, said thanks to VR, “Olympic fans can be transported to iconic venues such as Maracana Stadium for an unprecedented view of the Opening Ceremony, and Copacabana Beach for an immersive beach volleyball experience in the sport’s ultimate setting.”

Support the Local Community

Brands pay big bucks to be official Olympic sponsors. Beyond the opportunity to market their goods, many sponsors are also giving back to the local community. For example, Nike partnered with the City of Rio de Janeiro to revitalize youth sports programming in the city’s 22 Olympic Villages. In addition to major space renovations and equipment, Nike is providing training to staff for ongoing youth programming.

Event Marketing Lesson:

Connect a corporate social responsibility program with your event. When event attendees give back through a team-building service project or an event organizer supports a cause marketing partner, everyone benefits with community outreach initiatives.

Even after the 2016 Summer Olympic Games have ended, these lessons still apply. Go for the gold with your event by trying new social media strategies, providing new ways for attendees to participate and giving back to the local community.

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. Chief Marketing Officer, Doodle owner and lover of all things chocolate.