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Why Twitter’s Olympic Coverage is Good For All Marketers




Later this week, a huge portion of the world’s population will be tuning in to watch the Olympics on TV, on the internet, and on their mobile devices. Riding high on this media wave is Twitter, the official digital communication partner for NBC’s coverage.

In the past, we’ve seen Twitter streams integrated into sites for events such as The Super Bowl and we’ve seen Twitter rise to the top as the source of information during a natural disaster. This time, though, Twitter isn’t just reporting the news, they’re actually becoming a part of the experience.

The Twitter hub at NBCOlympics.com is like nothing we’ve seen before. Here’s a partial screenshot. The full site is so big and so deep, I’d need at least ten shots to cover it all.

At the top, we have the impact meter that shows how many related Tweets are already out there and the Average Tweets Per Minute. Already sitting at 254, this number should rise rapidly once the opening ceremonies begin.

Now look a the center portion of the page. Looks more like Pinterest than Twitter, doesn’t it? In order to draw people in quickly, Twitter has wisely chosen to use large graphics to designate which sports are currently trending. Click though and you’ll find a more typical Twitter stream of related Tweets along with links to the most popular athletes. Click there and you get a profile with a link to that athlete’s personal Twitter account.

In addition to collating data, Twitter is creating data with Hashtag Polls and MadLibs where you fill in the missing word then Tweet. For example: I can’t wait to watch (fill in the sport) on the Olympics!

Twitter’s Chief Executive Dick Costolo sat down with the Wall Street Journal this week to talk about where the company is headed. He said that this kind of event-based news aggregation is something they’re aggressively perusing. How does this help the average marketer? Because Costolo says they’re going to take what they’ve learned and offer it to smaller venues such as conferences. Extend that to local sporting events and festivals, any event that would benefit from a steady stream of real-time information.

Now, here’s the quote that’s really important,

Mr. Costolo said he tells employees, “We need to narrow the gap between awareness of Twitter and engagement of Twitter.”

It’s not enough to have people follow you on Twitter, they have to engage with you on Twitter in order to successfully market your brand. Twitter knows it and they’re pushing everything in that direction.

A recent survey showed that 87% of people who watch the Olympics plan to talk about it on social media. With Twitter appearing so prominently in the coverage, it’s likely that new people will join the site and people who have been quiet will start to post. And for, what could be the first time, people will see Twitter as a participatory project, not just a place to read the latest news. That’s good news for every marketer who Tweets.

Twitter is going to get a huge boost over the next two weeks. But what happens when the Olympics end and everyone goes home? Undoubtedly, Twitter’s momentum will drop off, but how far? I’m betting they’ll hold on to some of their new found fame and they’ll come out of this stronger than ever.