UKSN is delighted to give you Part 2 of our offering from Team GB. This time Joe has taken some time out to answer questions around Team GB and London 2012. He’s been a busy man this week with appearances on the Socialympics and SMW Gold panels looking back to this years Games as part of Social Media Week London.
What role does Twitter play in your job & in your view, what role has Twitter played during London 2012? (do you have any stats on which events created most Twitter activity?)
As Digital Manager for Team GB one of my main focuses was engaging the nation & gaining the best support that Team GB had ever seen at an Olympic Games. Now London 2012 is over we can reflect on what was truly the first social media Olympic Games, the huge growth in mobile & social since Beijing 2008 brings no surprise that it was also the first Games to be told in 140 characters.
Twitter provided a direct link between Team GB, our athletes, the sports & our fans. It was personal, social media has brought to the table this notion of inclusiveness, collaboration, its not about you & them, its about us, sharing the journey through conversation and content with the social community.
Twitter allowed us to keep our fans informed around the clock, to report on the highs, the lows, the medals, the close shaves and everything in between. It has allowed the people of the world who were not fortunate enough to be at the games, to be a part of the whole experience.
What are the plus points of using Twitter from the athletes’ point of view?
Twitter is all about sharing short, bite sized updates which, now with smartphones, is incredibly easy for athletes to use the platform to communicate with their fans. Athletes tweeting about their training, social life & thoughts of worlds make their fans feel connected & a part of their life
London 2012 saw some hair raising performances and the roar of the crowds that went with it, but those roars were not just in the stadium, the roars can from around the world via twitter. It was the place for athletes to share their journey, cheer on their fellow athletes, and invite their fans to be a part of the story.
What are the positives of Twitter for sports fans?
Sporting events & social media are a perfect match, since they are both real time in their very nature. You can see this before a gun has even been fired or a javelin thrown, the excitement pre Olympics was everywhere but its extension into social means fans worldwide can get involved – even if they are not at the event itself, twitter helps keep fans in the know on their favorite team & athletes.
Since Twitter is real time, latest updates, scores, & results are often received much quicker – our sporting world is no longer up to minute but up the second and social media very much aids the fans experience. You could be in venue and want to know interesting facts, behind the scenes content or what the coach said at half time or between heats or you could be on holiday & not near a TV to you are being kept in the know through social media sports commentary.
For me, the best bit is the content thats from the fans rather than the media, which is always more passionate – fans love talking with other fans about their team or favorite athletes and social media brings those fans together and allows the team to facilitate those conversations.
How much time did you spend planning the social media activity?
Since day one and it’s been an ever evolving plan, the games time social media plan was being developed in the months leading up to the games but was never set in stone, and it was never intended to be a rigid plan, it was a flexi-strategy which evolved during the games based on what worked and what didn’t, evolved based on what our fans were asking for and what the hot topics were.
The strategy was actually very simple, give the fans great content and keep them engaged through the journey of London 2012, we wanted them to feel a part of Team GB, which is the basis of our campaign, Our Greatest Team.
This has been the true first social Olympics & in previous games, the Olympics have been a curated experience with broadcasters and the mass media in control of what the viewers at home see. Now the power is with the fans to consume the Olympics the way they want & that is why we wanted all of our fans to be a part of the Olympic experience, through our social channels.
How are you writing your updates to ensure you get maximum likes, comments and shares from followers? Which are the ones which have really generated a lot of engagement? Any tips and tricks to share?
I always say you should try to lead or leave with a question (or an action), social media is a conversation after all, and just keep it simple. Give the fans what they want and don’t be afraid to ask them to do things for you. For example we shared a photo of Gemma Gibbons & her broken thumb on Facebook and ask our fans to show THEIR thumbs to wish her a speedy recovery, which they gladly did.
Would also say be consistent, we made sure we covered all events and all sports, we made sure we reported on HT/FT scores, race positions, medal winners and even those that didn’t win.
How has the power of social media impacted the running of the games?
This has truly been the first social Olympics. In previous games, the Olympics have been a curated experience with broadcasters and the mass media in control of what the viewers at home see. Now the power is with the fans to consume the Olympics the way they want.
An idea of the scale of support for Team GB through social media?
I don’t think anyone expected the level of support that Team GB received, not just from social media but from the nation on a whole, it seemed as if everyone got caught up in the Olympics spirit and got behind our athletes
We of course expected there to be a spike in social membership and engagement but not to the level that we saw.
What are your views on the negative tweets some athletes receive making the news (Tom Daley). Has this had an impact on your activity at all?
We had a team in place to monitor all social activity around the clock, so were alerted to such tweets quickly and were able to deal with them. In this particular case, the user is looking for attention, and that’s the last thing we are going to be giving him or the tweets, so we aimed to deal with it quickly & quietly so we can minimize the affect on the athletes or the sport.
What was the main objective for you guys with your social media campaigns?
Our campaign was titled “Our Greatest Team – 900 Athletes, 60 Million Strong” – we wanted to engage the nation, we wanted to reach out to those 60 million people and make them feel a part of the journey, a part of the Our Greatest Team. It was all about inclusiveness.
Our two objectives were about building a fan base for the future, in Beijing this was measured by eCRM database size, in London 2012 is measured on social media membership.
Secondly where engagement levels, we wanted our athletes, our brand, our campaign and our content to reach 60 million people. I am proud to say that did that on Facebook alone (62,000,000 people reached in the two weeks with our content)
How big was your social media team?
I had two separate teams in place. A social media sports commentary team made up of 4 volunteers who were based at Team GB HQ working 8 hour daily shifts to cover 8am til 12 midnight
The other team were based up in Camden & were responsible for monitoring the digital landscape 24/7
How did you managed to curate and organise the sheer volume of content for your channels?
Through planning & flexibility.
The social media team were working 8 hour daily shifts to cover 8am til 12 midnight throughout the games. Daily schedules were in place to ensure all Team GB events and athletes were being reported on in real time.
I did a day long work shop with my social media team to full brief them on the full strategy, tone of voice, crisis management procedure, even planning future hashtags like #aMOzingg (two g’s for two golds) and #GoldenHoy – every day we managed to get around 4 or 5 hashtags trending which was fantastic to see.
Since day one the social media strategy has been an ever evolving plan, the strategy was being developed in the months leading up to the games but was never set in stone, and it was never intended to be a rigid plan, it was a flexi-strategy which evolved during the games based on what worked and what didn’t, evolved based on what our fans were asking for and what the hot topics were.
My team were given that flexibility and encourage to bring new ideas to the table on a daily basis to mix things up and keep things fresh
Would you say your content was more video or image based?
Predominantly image based, mainly due to the restrictions around in venue video content. The biggest interest from our fans were in how our athletes were performing on the field of play, which with the real time sports commentary, we complimented with rich photo content from PA and Getty Images. Within 5 minutes of our athletes finishing a match or getting a medal, we will have that iconic image from the wire and pushed straight out across social.
What were the main ‘trending’ topics?
These were changing ten-fold every hour based on what was happening on the field of play. We had pre planned a lot of hashtags ready for when certain results may come in. #GoMo, #GoldenHoy, #GoldWednesday #aMOzingg #BigBen – all hashtags we managed to get trending within 60 seconds of the athletes medaling. It was great for not only Team GB but for the recognition and awareness of the athletes and the sports
What was the split like between UK active users and the rest of the world? Which countries stood out etc
On twitter – 92% was UK with 2% USA
On Facebook – 91% was UK with USA and AUS 2nd and 3rd
Thanks Joe! Make sure you follow him at @mrjoemorgan