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Social Media & Its Impact on Major Athletic Events

March 1, 2018 Bradford Group Administrator

Every four years, we have the opportunity to watch some of the world’s best athletes compete on the international stage in the Winter Olympics.

The very first Winter Olympics begin in 1924 in the French Alps with a total of six sports and less than 300 athletes. Today, the Winter games have grown to include 15 different sports and nearly 3,000 athletes from countries around the world.

Not only have the games grown in size, they – and other major athletic events – have also been impacted by new innovations, such as better time-tracking technology, the internet and especially social media.

Thanks to today’s online platforms, fans are never far from Winter Olympics coverage – whether it’s live tweets with score updates, Facebook Live coverage of events, Snapchat stories documenting behind-the-scenes moments or Instagram photos highlighting memories.

In addition, here are three other ways social media has impacted this year’s Winter Olympics:

More Access to Athletes

One thing’s for sure, social media has made these world-famous athletes more accessible now than ever before. Fans (and haters) can interact with different athletes by liking or commenting on their posts or sending them messages. Athletes can also share an inside look at their Olympic experience, posting photos and messages through the highs and lows of their journey.

Brands in the Spotlight

Brands are also taking advantage of social media’s popularity in the Winter Olympics. Many have partnered with athletes to tell their stories, thereby promoting the brand, like this video ad with figure skater Ashley Wagner.












Other brands have used the quadrennial event to create their own conversations, like Proctor and Gamble’s #ThankYouMom series.













And some brands use the star-studded athletes for more blatant product promotions, like this one from Coca-Cola and Nathan Chen.
















Though their strategies may differ, brands are capitalizing on the friendly faces of recognizable athletes and the wide-reaching platforms of social media.

Time Is Just a Number

Depending on your location and time of day, events at the Winter Olympics could be happening on a completely different day from when you view them (Nashville is 15 hours behind PyeongChang!). And while network television airs many of the events during their primetime broadcasts and late into the night, we have access to Olympic news and highlights at any time of day through social media.

For example, the Opening Ceremonies were held on February 9 at 8pm in South Korea – which was 5am Central Time. Later that morning, I read highlights from the event and saw photo and video footage online – though the ceremonies were not aired on television in the U.S. until 7pm CT. Time has a very limited impact on our ability to receive news and updates, all thanks to the internet and social media.

What other ways have you seen social media impact this year’s Winter Olympics?

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