Media Organizations' Social Strategies Shift Since Last Olympics

Published on Aug 15th, 2016

SportsCenter has produced the most-engaged Olympics posts on Twitter and Instagram since the 2016 games began Aug. 5 in Rio. However, another media organization owns that distinction on Facebook.

The New York Times posted the most-engaged overall Olympics-related content. Its video about what makes Simone Biles the world’s best gymnast, part of a special interactive at the Times’ website, has generated more than 1 million actions and 45 million views. Of those actions, 47% are shares indicating the shareability of content that tells a story , especially videos.

The New York Times has generated 650% more engagement from video content during Rio compared with the first 10 days of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Another media organization also has been more successful using video this Olympics.

NBC Sees Significant Improvement with Video

NBC Olympics was responsible for six of the 10 most-engaged Olympics-related posts on Facebook. Of those, five were videos. They ranged from clips of competition victories, like Michelle Carter becoming the first American woman to get gold in shot put, gifs of a near water bottle mishap among members of the Australian Women’s soccer team and split-screen videos like the one that featured Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu and her cheering section.

Generating engagement from video content is the biggest difference in NBC’s social strategy now compared with during the Sochi Olympics. NBC has generated nearly half (46%) of its engagement from video content during the first 10 days in Rio, up from 0.3% during the same time period in Sochi—a difference of more than 15,000%.

NBC is the broadcast rights holder for the Rio Olympics, as well as the games in Sochi.

NBC also has generated social engagement on Facebook with photos, like this original art depicting Michael Phelps and his record 28 medals, including 23 gold. The photo generated more than 300,000 actions.

SportsCenters Olympic Dominance

The Olympics weren’t able to knock top media organizations from producing the most-engaged overall posts on Facebook and Instagram during the first 10 days of the Olympics. But SportsCenter was able to post four of the 10-most engaged tweets so far during the games, including the top overall tweet during that time period.

The tweet featured side-by-side images of Phelps and Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing and these games. Schooling, just 13 when he met his idol Phelps, beat him to take the gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly. The post was also the most-engaged Olympics-related post on Instagram since Aug. 5.

Of the remaining top tweets, SportsCenter network ESPN posted three, all about Phelps’ journey from Baltimore kid being compared to Michael Jordan to 28-time Olympic medalist . Only one of the top 10 tweets wasn’t about the Olympics.

On Instagram, SportsCenter produced all 10 most-engaged posts about the Olympics. Of those, only one is a video. It features a norwegian reporter rapping to Usain Bolt . Speaking of Bolt, he was the subject of SportsCenter’s second-most-engaged Instagram posts. Some are calling it the photo of the Rio Olympics—Bolt smiling as he cruises to victory in his third consecutive 100-meter gold medal.

Like NBC, SportsCenter’s social strategy has changed significantly a bit since Sochi. During the first 10 days of the Sochi games, SportsCenter’s social engagement led by Twitter (39%), but was pretty even split between Facebook (28%) and Instagram (32%). At that time, more than 84% of SportsCenter's social posts wer tweets.

So far in Rio, social posts have been more evenly distributed between all three platforms. Though Twitter still counts for the largest share of posts at 41%, SportsCenter is posting far more often to Facebook (31%) and Instagram (28%), platforms where its audience is more engaged. The daily sports program has been particularly effective with Instagram, which is responsible for generating more than three-quarters (77%) of SportsCenter’s total social engagement, a 141% improvement compared with Sochi. It has only generated 13% of its social engagement on Facebook and 11% on Twitter so far.

We'll continue to produce Olympics content throughout the games. Check back with the Shareablee blog for more.

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