One of the main goals of the 2012 Olympics sponsors is to engage as many consumers as possible through social media.
Olympic sponsors will spend untold millions of dollars in a desperate attempt to shape, mold and control one thing: consumer use of social media. However, this may be easier said than done, and for these sponsors, the risks of losing are significant.
Nate Elliott, a principal analyst and vice president of Forrester Research, points out that “people use social media to connect with each other. They don’t use it much to connect with brands.”
Nevertheless, big sponsors will still try to use social media, but also because they don’t have much of a choice. In fact, the largest sponsors spent close to 1 billion dollars just to earn the rights to exhibit the seal of the last summer and winter Olympics.
Visa lets fans use social media to post intricate cheers for their favorite Olympic athletes. Cola-Cola, on the other hand, aims to engage social media users and fans of the Olympics by letting them share music video creations. Moreover, General Electric uses social media to pursue a health improvement advocacy.
In reference to the 2012 Olympics, Bob Liodice, chief executive of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), said “we are going to see the use of social media surpass any sporting event in history.”
For sponsors, investing huge amounts of money and time for social media is both a huge waste and an excellent investment. A Forrester survey reports that eighty seven percent of adult online users in the United States say they use social media this year. As such, eighty percent of marketers use online video services, like YouTube, this year, and compared to only 64 % last 2011, according to a digital survey conducted by ANA.
Furthermore, Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer for Procter & Gamble, predicted that social media will make up around half of its impressions. He said, “we have evidence that our social-media space provides a better return than TV.”
On the other hand, it’s difficult to get users talking about brands rather than athletes on popular social networking sites, such as Twitter or Facebook.
Martin Lindstrom, a brand consultant, said that people are not likely to support a particular brand name if it is not obviously related to the social media activity. Thus, this has led Lindstrom to believe that spending for social media among big Olympic sponsors “is nothing more than a lot of time and money wasted.”
According to Julie Hall, a marketing guru, rather than using millions of dollars on social media promotions, they should just use it to develop relationships at the customer-level.
The reality is that most people post about themselves, their friends, and their interests online, and not about brands or products.
On the other hand, according to Wendy Clark, senior vice president of integrated marketing for Coca-Cola, says that “the numbers have passed the skeptics at this point. We don’t spend this amount of time on things that don’t work.”
During 2008, Facebook has 100 million users and Twitter has six million. Now, the numbers have increased tremendously: about 900 million and 500 million, respectively. These numbers have surely enticed sponsors to use social media in their campaigns.