Social media and Olympics rio 2016The 2016 Rio Olympics were the first of many: the first time they were held in a South American city, the first time a team of refugees participated, the first time an American competed in a hijab. But the most notable of all these firsts is that the 2016 Olympics were the first Olympics to be broadcasted in virtual reality. Social media played a fundamental role in 2016 Olympics, however, there were three instances that proved to be the most imperative


1. The First Ever Olympics with a Social Media Strategy

Firstly, the 2016 Olympics came prepared with a social media strategy. Social media was considered a key element in disseminating information about Rio 2016 and in engaging with a diverse, world-wide audience. To connect more seamlessly with the global audience, accounts were made in different channels and in different languages dedicated solely to the promotion of Rio 2016.

Social media and Olympics 2016

5 Must-Know Facts about 2016 Olympics and Social Media

Brazil is the country with the greatest number of new Facebook users and, as such, is considered the kingdom of Facebook: Because of its relevance to the Brazilian audience, Facebook was the prime channel around which Rio 2016’s social media strategy was developed. Facebook Live was used to broadcast daily processes, key facts about the headquarters of 2016 Olympics, destination information, profiles of participating athletes, and schedules of the games. Facebook Live was also used to broadcast and engage with the audience during the Torch Relay. Videos and pictures of inspirational moments during the games were shared to keep the audience up-to-date and craving for more.

It was expected that the involvement of social media during the Olympics will result in greater reach, impressions and engagement for the 2016 Olympics as it will allow even those people to be engaged who rely predominantly on social media for their source of news and entertainment. However, the digital world presented its fair share of impediments. This brings us to the second way social media impacted 2016 Olympics.

2. Social Media Help Attract Global Attention with a Caveat

While social media allowed 2016 Olympics to build a huge audience even before the start of Olympics, it also garnered 2016 Olympics some negative attention. Brazil was heavily criticised for everything ranging from political instability to the Zika virus resulting in perhaps the most negative mainstream media coverage received by any Olympics to date. What we found to be more surprising was that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) left the power of the narrative in the hands of journalists and people, an unprecedented and unexpected move given that research has shown that media has a tendency to be negatively biased towards non-Western mega-event hosts.

3. Social Media Presents New Challenges in Monitoring the Usage of Copyrighted Content

Another impact of social media for 2016 Olympics came in the form of monitoring the usage of copyrighted terms. IOC is infamous for its Rule 40, which bans the use of official trademarks by all other than its sponsors. This seems controversial in this age of social media, where news and information are exchanged seamlessly, and even contrary to Rio 2016’s social media strategy, but the Rule is dedicated to protecting the rights of its sponsors. To circumvent this Rule, brands come up with unique campaign ideas that elude to the Olympics without actually referring to it, thus cashing in on all the hype generated by Olympics. Notably, Adidas’s Speed Takes campaign was so successful that it lead many people to believe that it was an official sponsor.

There is no doubt that social media is changing the way we consume information, connect with each other and live our lives and this change is spilling over to impact how major events such as the Olympics reach its viewers. Connecting and engaging with millennials is crucial to ensure that big ticket events such as Olympics don’t become obsolete and for this, they need to engage with their audiences by establishing a solid presence on the most relevant channels. The second-screen phenomenon offers unlimited, geographically-unhindered potential but to harness the power of marvel requires keen acumen and forethought. For 2016 Summer Olympics, social media meant reaching millions beyond the physical limitations of the stadium and a virtual ticket for all to enjoy its offerings.


Tehreem Fatima is Content Writer/Editor at InnoMedia.