The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is gearing up for the Rio de Janiero Olympic games, and medal count won’t be the only indicator of success for the organization.

Over the past few years, the COC has made an effort to completely revamp their online presence. With a website geared heavily towards Canadian athlete news stories and fan engagement, the COC is looking to draw spectators in with a sense of community.

“Most sports teams have an arena or stadium where fans can congregate,” says Mark Nadolny, digital products specialist at the COC. “For [the Canadian Olympic team] it’s really just online.” 

Last year, the COC launched the Canadian Olympic club, an incentive based program housed within their website. Registered users gain points by reading athlete bios, watching videos or interacting with the site in a variety of ways. These points are redeemable in the form of digital downloads or entries into contests run by the COC. “It really provides value to fans for being a part of the Canadian Olympic movement,” says Nadolny.

The COC is currently active on a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. According to Nadolny, the COC’s previous strategy was to simply pump out the same content on all of their channels. Now, they have transitioned to tailor content to suit a specific social media platform.

While the Facebook and Twitter accounts have the most followers, Nadolny explains that each platform offers them a different way to engage with users. He says that Twitter is ideal for breaking news best shared in real time, whereas Facebook is better for driving traffic to their website. Snapchat and Vine are both newer social media networks that are excellent for connecting with a younger demographic.

Last month, the COC unveiled the branding campaign for Rio 2016 as ‘Ice in our Veins.’ The main attraction is a 60-second video featuring a variety of Canadian Olympic hopefuls braving the frigid northern temperatures while training.

The video has been released online, but will reach a larger audience closer to the games when it is aired on TV. Additionally, the COC is hoping to see users engage with them online using designated hashtags. #WeAreWinter was the Canadian team’s tag at the 2014 Olympic games, and was the second most used hashtag throughout Sochi. It was beat out only by #Sochi2014. With the success of that campaign in mind, Nadolny hopes that #IceInOurVeins or simply #TeamCanada will catch on just as strong.

“We’re really planning a whole strategy for every ‘medal moment’ that happens,” says Nadolny. “We really want to make sure that every Canadian or even sports fan around the world doesn’t miss any of the medals that we win.”

Nadolny also explained that focusing on mobile content as well as French language content has helped to boost their engagement. “Everything we do is English and French, but at the same point we started over the last few years to notice the differences between the two audiences,” said Nadolny. “Just being able to dedicate part of our content team to specifically french content…we’ve seen a lot of growth across Twitter and other channels as we’ve honed in on that strategy.”

The Rio games will run from Aug. 5-21, 2016.

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