Premium Olympic sponsors win social gold medal

Victoria Ransom explains how official sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics has helped drive social media engagement with premium sponsors.

by Victoria Ransom
Last Updated: 24 Aug 2012

London 2012 has helped athletes like Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton establish themselves as brands in their own right through securing lucrative sponsorship deals with brands like Powerade, Olay and Pantene. 

This has raised their profiles enormously and has helped to grow their social fanbases; boosting their numbers of Twitter followers and Facebook likes significantly. But what about the success of the official London 2012 Olympic sponsors on social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest? 

Brands like Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonalds have invested millions to own exclusive rights over Olympic branding, but have these deals allowed them to enjoy the same success on social media as our Team GB darlings?

For London 2012, Olympic sponsorship deals were sought after in three different categories; Premium sponsors (like Visa and Panasonic), London partners (including Adidas and Lloyds) and sponsors of individual athletes (such as synchronised swimmer Jenna Randall being sponsored by Braun).  Wildfire found that sponsors in all three categories saw their social fanbases increase during the games.

The Premium sponsors enjoyed the greatest levels of growth on both Facebook (12%) and Twitter (8%), followed by the London partners on Facebook (7%) and Twitter (8%), and the individual sponsors (3% on both networks).

Top stats about the London 2012 Olympic sponsors include:

  • Visa’s YouTube channel garnered more than 47 million views of its "Go World" campaign commercials and athlete training videos.   
  • On Facebook, the big winners in the Premium section were the Dow Chemical Company, Atos, and Visa, who experienced 110%, 39% and 29% growth on Facebook respectively. On Twitter, the top players were Visa, GE, and Omega Watches, who saw 57%, 22%, and 19% growth.
  • For the London Partners, Lloyds TSB was a big winner on Facebook, seeing 68% growth. On Twitter, however, Adidas took the gold with a 9% growth in its fan base.
  • For the individual sponsors, golden girl Jessica Ennis certainly helped Powerade and Olay. Powerade saw a 16% boost on Facebook and 25% increase on Twitter, while Olay enjoyed a 3% increase on Facebook and 9% jump on Twitter.
  • P&G created an official board on Pinterest for its "Thank You Mum" campaign, containing hundreds of Olympics-related pictures. 

As a general rule, social media users are more inclined to like or follow individuals rather than companies so it is no mean feat for a brand, however well-known, to glean a wide social fanbase. The big challenge that these brands face now is how to keep these new fans engaged. 

With the Olympics over and the Paralympics ending on the ninth of September, these brands will need to work hard to produce content that allows them to hold on to these valuable social fans.

Victoria Ransom is CEO of Wildfire, a social media marketing company.

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