With the games of the 32nd Olympiad about to kick-off in Tokyo, after a year's delay due to the pandemic, and amid ongoing uncertainty with Japan's COVID situation, Twitter has today outlined how it's looking to help users take part in discussion around the event, which also includes how brands can tap into the surrounding trends for their tie-in marketing efforts.
First off, as has become the norm for major events, Twitter is adding custom hashtag emojis (or 'hashflags' as some know them), both for the event itself and individual participant nations:
As per Twitter:
"Fans worldwide can use the official Olympics Twitter emoji throughout the Games. The emoji will unlock when you Tweet #Olympics and related hashtags in more than 30 languages. Twitter will also have emojis for each country competing, unlocked when you Tweet three-character country hashtags. Lastly, fans can cheer on the Refugee Olympic Team during the Games by Tweeting #EOR to unlock their team emoji."
Twitter's also added custom hashflags for American gymnast Simone Biles specifically, as she looks to build on her Olympics legacy.
It seems likely that other athletes will also get similar hashflags throughout the games.
Twitter's also adding a new Olympics Explore tab on desktop for the duration of the event, as well as new Olympic topics to follow to stay up to date.
Twitter will also be running custom games Event Pages, which will feature top Tweets from trusted accounts.
"You'll be able to follow the action and reactions as they happen for the marquee events and top games. We will also have custom Event Pages dedicated to different countries. These will be home to top Tweets which capture that country’s experience."
And in a new addition for this year, Twitter's launching what it's calling its #ExpertEngine Experience, which will provide a way for users to learn more about Olympic events.
When you send a tweet through, you'll get a reply with facts and animated clips related to that event.
Great Britain skateboarder Sky Brown is set to replace swimmer Margery Hinton as the country’s youngest-ever summer Olympian. Aged just 12, Brown is younger than Hinton, who was 13 years and 43 days old when she competed at the Amsterdam Games in 1928. pic.twitter.com/dkAFqg6Jk5— Olympics (@Olympics) July 21, 2021
It could be a handy option if you're looking to learn more about the events - or if you just want to one-up your friend or partner who suddenly thinks that he/she knows everything there is to know about modern pentathlon and its athletes.
Twitter also notes that the most popular Olympic sports thus far, in terms of overall tweet volume, are:
While the most popular individual athletes are:
- Rikako Ikee (@rikakoikee) - Swimming, Japan
- Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) - Gymnastics, USA
- Naomi Osaka (@naomiosaka) - Tennis, Japan
- Kei Nishikori (@keinishikori) - Tennis, Japan
- Kohei Uchimura (@kohei198913) - Gymnastics, Japan
These will likely change during the event, as there are always emerging heroes and stories between the lines. But if you were looking for where the Olympics conversation is focused, these are some good pointers at this stage.
Which is what brands seeking tie-in opportunities are probably most keen on - and on this front, Twitter has also shared some pointers for marketers to help in their planning.
Twitter's key considerations for branded tie-ins are:
- Get your tone and topics right - There are 33 different sports to choose from, so don't limit yourself to the most popular events
- Get familiar with time zones - According to Twitter, 28% of people are planning to use their preferred social platform to watch highlights in the morning
- Make the most of digital-first - With no IRL crowds, more fans than ever will be looking to engage online, which is a big potential opportunity
- Plan for the unexpected - With the COVID-19 situation still evolving, things can change quickly, so if you've mapped out a strategy, note that it could be blown out of the water, just like that
- Define your goals - Consider not only your basic social media engagement goals, but the actual brand benefits that you're looking to glean from your tie-in campaigns
These are some solid notes, and if you are planning out an associated tweet strategy, it's worth factoring in these elements, and ensuring that you're best prepared.
Because nobody knows what's going to happen over the next few weeks. Even now, with the COVID situation worsening in Japan, it still feels like the Olympics could be canceled entirely, while in the past, the Games have dominated the surrounding media cycle so significantly, that there's also a good chance that it's going to be much harder to get your brand messaging heard at all during the event.
Maybe. It feels different this time around due to the COVID changes, and it'll be strange watching world records get broken with literally no crowd response. Maybe that will mean that the Games are less influential, and disruptive in the general media sense - or maybe people will be increasingly keen to unite around the Games due to the pandemic, and it'll be bigger than ever.
It's impossible to say, but you can definitely expect to hear a lot more sports discussion, and that may need to be factored into your planning.