Rio Olympics

The 2016 Rio Olympics have already produced a host of reputation management nightmares, from highly contaminated water to the handling of the Russian doping scandal and everything in between.

As with any major international event, we can’t resist getting the details and impact of these events so far using the NetBase platform.

What can our social analytics data tell brands who involved in this Summer’s biggest international sporting event? A lot – if they’re willing to listen.


Social Analytics Overview: Rio 2016

We analyzed over 50k posts from around the web to understand social reach, Net Sentiment and how passionate social conversations have been.

olympic posts overview

Using Netbase’s Social Analysis Platform, we pulled social data from the past two months around the Rio Olympics.

Retweets have been Huge:

Of the more than 50K posts we discovered, 87% of them were retweets or reblogs, with only just over 6000 – or 12.3% – containing original content. There’s a strong reverb effect that should clue in brands– particularly Rio’s social media team: Your content is highly likely to be shared, so make it WORTH sharing.

No Surprise: Impressions are Off the Charts

Potential impressions are nearing 1 billion – an indicator that, not too surprising, people are paying attention and highly engaged in Olympics based conversations. With the start of the games only a week away, this number will continue to climb.

Sentiment is Higher than we Expected:

Net Sentiment is strongly positive at 65% (out of -100% to 100%), and there’s time for it to increase. Net Sentiment represents positivity and negativity of social posts by degrees, and this is unusually high considering the negative press coming out of the Olympics. This just illustrates the way our preconceived notions and personal experiences cloud our judgment of the whole story.

As this is an image analysis, not all mentions of the Olympics are included – and suggests Olympics images are not as negative as the overall conversation. This could greatly help the Olympics as a brand. Images tend to go viral more readily than tweets, so the Rio PR team has a chance to direct the conversation – and sentiment – with more positive images and messages, as those are easily retweeted.

Passion Intensity – or how much social consumers feel that sense of like – is also very strong at 73%. Olympics fans are talking positively and passionately about the Olympics using images.

This initial overview gives us some great context when looking at more specific topics and conversations.


Topic Talk: Samsung, PokemonGo and Rio Controversies

As we delve a little deeper into actual topics of conversation, a few things stand out. Among women especially, who comprise a little less than half our audience, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Olympic Edition dominates the conversation:

top terms

You can see men are also talking about the S7 Edge – but there’s more conversation about the Olympics in general in their breakdown.

Best Buy is the only retail brand rising to the surface in connection with our social listening based on the Olympics as an event:

olympic word cloud

Other retailers hoping to capitalize on Olympic fever need to work harder to break through.

And Samsung could step up their game as well to be sure competitors don’t break through and claim their share – or more – of the conversation.

We see this when we do a little visual listening – something all brands should add to their social monitoring arsenal. The Samsung Galaxy posts aren’t all that exciting:

samsung galaxy

Yes, news of the special edition smartphone is being shared – and even generating its share of buzz. But this image representing Samsung’s partnership with the Olympics is hardly viral material. And as other Olympics-themed promos gather ground, and people focus on the games themselves, a simple shot of the Edge 7 may not be enough to keep the excitement going for consumers. Even with the Olympic rings in the mix.

There are numerous opportunities to be cleverly creative, however – and working in other current trends could help.

For example, the Pokémon GO craze could be tied into Olympic fever in any number of ways. What about Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps looking for Pokémon at the side of the pool? That’s the kind of post that could be wildly popular.

Or medal winners vowing to “catch ’em all” immediately after the medal ceremonies – it could be the new “I’m going to Disney World!”

And of course Samsung could encourage people to tweet and capture Pokémon with their Samsung phones at the Olympics. That would inspire people to talk about their brand and the Olympics – and taking it a step further with an incentivized competition angle could really get things buzzing.

It’s not enough to rely on standard social techniques, or a partnership – even one as sweet as the Olympic Games. Brands must continually monitor campaign performance via social listening tools – to be sure sentiment is positive and, in the case of longer-tailed campaigns, growing. And to be aware of any competitors rising through the ranks, ready to overtake their lead – or detractors trying to bring them down. Both can happen quickly.

Our analysis already shows there’s some negative imagery happening around Pokémon Go connected to the Olympics as an event:

olympic pokemon

Another reason to find a way to give it a positive spin. Not that it’s the Olympics’ job to save the Pokémon brand – but it becomes their business when their logo is being co-opted for such purposes.

This is why visual listening is so crucial.


Show, Don’t Tell

Visual listening is another layer to the psychographic and sentiment monitoring brands already do – but it’s an important one given that “articles with images get 94% more views than those without,” according to Kissmetrics. More people may see someone’s twisted interpretation of your brand logo more than they see anything you share yourself.

And here’s where text-based social monitoring doesn’t help you: Many images are shared without commentary, or without mention of the brand name in the image. So your social media intelligence software can’t alert you to their presence – unless you have visual listening in the mix.

So what images should the Olympics PR and Social teams be concerned about? Well, there’s this one:


It doesn’t exactly promote the ideal Olympic feeling of goodwill and peace. But the Top Attributes support a feeling of uneasiness throughout the conversation about the Olympics:

olympic attributes

Even if your social listening platform doesn’t support multiple languages – though it should – words like “catastrófico” and “problema” are self-explanatory. And terms like “plan terror attack”, “massive catastrophe”, and “shoot down” say it all. Olympic fans are worried.

This worry isn’t necessarily overtaking their excitement at the games, but still, it’s important to acknowledge any consumer concerns that affect your brand – and the Olympics is a brand. With recent world events fresh in people’s minds, those running social messaging should make it a point to steer the conversation where they desire – while acknowledging people’s concerns.

They should be promoting images of safety to counter terrorist images like the one above – to ensure the public they are aware and prepared to keep athletes and spectators safe.


Meeting Controversy with Honesty

But even without security questions, the Rio Olympics are pretty steeped in controversy. Reputational threats from outsiders are bad enough, but when the host city’s acting governor claims the event could be a “big failure,” that’s a lot to work against.


Conditions inside the athletes’ Olympic Village are reported to be “disgusting” – and despite the image above, security is reported to be “poor:”


The bay where the sailing events will take place is polluted with sewage:


There are other issues like the International Association of Athletics Federations banning the Russian track and field athletes from competing – due to insufficient drug testing protocols from the Russians:


Worries about Zika virus spread continue to abound, though the World Health Organization claims the virus is already widespread enough that canceling the Olympics wouldn’t matter. But that hasn’t stopped social users from commenting in their own way:


And those are just a few of the obstacles facing the Rio Olympics’ PR tribe.

The only way out is through, as they say, and for those who “own” their part in any controversy, they can come out heroes by acknowledging what’s going on, and focusing on steps being taken to find solutions.

This is what any brand should do amidst similar conditions. Doing anything else keeps the spotlight negative, and opens the door for reputational damage, as well as competitors to save the day – instead of a brand saving itself or rising stronger from the ashes.


Social Media Intelligence Brings You the World

These insights illustrate how vast the world of social media truly is, and how different consumer sentiment may be from our perception. There’s a lot to learn from looking at social data surrounding the Olympics, but brands have to decide which lessons hold the most value for them.

Perhaps the best lesson we can take from the Olympics is that we do live in one big connected – by social media – world, and we need to listen to each other to find understanding. Whether it’s brands hoping to understand where consumers’ passions lie to deliver the ultimate experience, or athletes hoping to beat their personal bests and inspire their fans – social media reminds us we are all in it together:


Brands compete, but they form unlikely and successful partnerships too. Maybe at the end of the day social listening isn’t so much about besting the competition, but about pushing your brand to be the best it can be. That’s what consumers really love anyway.

Want to learn more about what NetBase has to offer? Reach out for a one-on-one demo of our platform!

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