Facebook, Twitter Announce Tools to Help Users Celebrate the Rio Olympics
The Games of the 31st Olympiad are about to begin, meaning your social feeds are about to be flooded with highlights and storylines from the event. Are you excited about the Rio Games? Will you be joining in the conversation to show your support for your team's athletes?
If you are keen to get into the spirit of the event (and you're not doing so as a brand), there's a range of new tools with which to do so via social. Here's a look at how the major platforms are helping connect users to the Olympics celebrations, and how you can participate in the surrounding excitement.
According to research conducted by Twitter, as many as 82% of their users will be looking to get info related to the Olympics from the platform. And if the last Games is anything to go by, there'll be a lot of news to take in. During the 2012 London Olympics, 150 million tweets were sent about the event - and that was at a time when the platform had around half the monthly active user base it has now.
To cater to this increased interest and discussion, Twitter's introduced a range of new tools and options to help users get into the Olympic spirit.
First off, there's the emoji - Twitter's added 207 team flags, one for every competing nation, including the Refugee Olympic Team (#ROT).
To attach a flag to your tweet, simply enter the relevant three letter hashtag and the image will be linked automatically to the end of the tag - though worth noting, it also adds an extra character to your tweet.
In addition to this, Twitter's also added a range of Olympic and Olympic event-specific emoji for the event.
Twitter's also announced a small tweak to their Moments feature to help users follow along:
"You'll see the option to follow country specific Moments, which will last throughout the Games, so the best of what's happening with your team will appear in your timeline for the entirety of the Olympics. You can also just opt to follow your favorite sports and events to see these Tweets in your timeline, or catch up on what you missed every day with recap Moments that will highlight results, medal counts and more."
It's a slight change on the normal Moments functionality, in that these Moments will last for the entirety of the event, while the option to follow only the information related to the nation you're most interested in adds to the utility of the option, and could see more people sign up for the Games, delivering Olympics info direct to their timelines.
On Periscope, there'll be a featured channel for Olympics-related content, which will include exclusive content from Twitter's "Red, White and Blue Room" (a variation of Twitter's "Blue Room" celebrity interview concept) which will be hosted within USA House.
Via the "Red, White and Blue Room", Twitter will conduct athlete interviews and provide behind the scenes content to supplement the live coverage of the Games on NBC Universal.
Vine will also feature Olympics-related content in the Explore section of their app, and when you double-tap a Vine from @Olympics or any of the various team accounts, you'll have an Olympic Flame appear on screen instead of the regular heart icon.
Twitter's also added every Olympic event into their Event Targeting database in Ads Manager to enable brands to reach users who are tweeting or reading tweets about each.
But be careful on this - the IOC has very strict guidelines around using Olympic content for commercial purposes, as was highlighted last week with their warning to brands not to use "official" hashtags.
On Facebook, you're now able to add a new Olympic photo frame to your profile image to show your support for your home nation (or just your support for the Games in general).
There's also a new range of MSQRD filters which virtually paint your face in your team colors. You can use these in Facebook Live videos or even as your Facebook profile image.
Facebook's also added a new, Olympics news section which will be constantly updated with the latest news and results - you'll likely see a prompt like this in your News Feed some time this week.
It's similar to their 'Sports Stadium' tool which collates all the related conversation around sports events into a single page to follow along - Facebook's attempt to tap into real-time conversation around sports.
The content shown will include posts from friends and public content related to the sports you're likely to be most interested in, based on the algorithm. There'll also be exclusive live content and related discussion.
One interesting note, as pointed out by TechCrunch, is that this new Olympics page can be difficult to find if you don't click-through on that initial prompt. For Sports Stadium content, you just search for the event in Facebook and it should, theoretically, provide you with a link to the Sports Stadium page for that match, but it doesn't always work this way - our guess is the Olympics page will be the same once the event begins.
Google's made it easier to find information on Olympic schedules, results and broadcast guides, especially within the Google app, where users can sign up to get automatic updates on top event and medal wins.
Via YouTube, Google has also partnered with broadcasters in 60 countries to host official highlights, which will also be linked directly into Google search results.
YouTube is also sending 15 of their top creators over to Rio to provide additional perspective on the celebrations via YouTube's new live streaming feature, giving them a chance to showcase YouTube's capacity for live-stream content, while Google Street View has partnered with eight of Rio's top cultural institutions to provide an interactive collection of some of the city's key landmarks, adding additional perspective to the Olympic experience.
Snapchat's partnered with NBC to show highlights from the Games and will have a dedicated Discover channel for Olympics content - at the moment they're sharing the non-Olympics identifying 'Rio Games Challenge' on Discover, which encourages users to participate in various ways.
Once the Games begin, BuzzFeed will be curating short clips and behind-the-scenes content into Snapchat's Olympics Discover channel for the duration of the event, while Snapchat's team will create daily "live stories" using content from NBC, athletes and sports fans at the scene.
Snapchat has also announced a range of Olympic-themed Lenses, Bitmoji and Geofilters for the event.
As you can see, there's a heap of ways to follow along and take part in the excitement of the Rio Games via social, and it'll be interesting also to see how Instagram uses Games-related content to promote their new Stories feature and what it's capable of.
For brands, as noted, there are restrictions relating to how you can tap into the Games discussion, but there are also creative ways you can explore to reach that audience of users who are more active and engaged on each platform during the event.
Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter