How Brands Use Olympians As Social Influencers

Published on Aug 16th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

Brands more and more are leveraging the online audiences of social influencers to amplify messaging to a group of people they might not otherwise reach. Why? Influencers are better at social than most brands. They have broader reach, are trustworthy and innovative . Influencers are also especially adept with social video .

A social influencer could be anyone who’s figured out how to monetize social, or they could be more traditional advertising spokespeople, like athletes. Several brands are successfully using their partnerships with Olympic athletes to generate engagement and reach new audiences on social. We broke down some of the best examples of social influencer marketing during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Team USA gymnast Gabby Douglas is one of the most-engaged Olympic social influencers. She has posted to Twitter and Instagram featuring her partnerships with Gillette Venus and My Black is Beautiful, a P&G Everyday campaign.

Her two Venus Instagram posts since the Olympics began Aug. 5, part of the #MovesLikeNoOther campaign, have generated nearly 150,000 actions and nearly 4.8 million views. One GIF features her jumping in front of uneven bars , and in the other, she’s just holding a razor. Both link directly to Venus’ Instagram page.



By comparison, Venus has posted four times to Instagram since the Olympics began, including regrams of Douglas’ posts . Neither generated the type of engagement that Douglas’ did. In fact, all four of Venus’ posts generated a combined 14,285 actions and about 18,000 views.

If you look at the engagement Venus and Douglas have generated during the Olympics and compare their audiences sizes, it starts to become clear why the global women’s shaving products manufacturer partnered with Douglas, a three-time (so far) Olympic gold medalist.

And it’s not just an Olympics fluke. Douglas has generated more than 4 million actions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram year to date, compared with nearly 33,000 for Venus. That’s more than 15,000 actions per post for Douglas and nearly 1,200 for Venus.

While Douglas’ campaign with Venus has been featured on Twitter and Instagram, let’s consider Facebook impressions, a measure of how many times a post is displayed, to better illustrate the difference in between Venus’ ability to reach social audiences versus Douglas’. Douglas has generated nearly 5.4 million Facebook impressions since Aug. 5, 19x more than Venus’ 267,000.



The same is true for My Black is Beautiful. Douglas’ Instagram posts as part of the campaign generated an average of 135,000 actions. That far exceeds the most-engaged post produced by My Black is Beautiful since the Olympics began, a photo featuring Simone Biles that has more than 1,500 actions.

Gabby Douglas isn’t the only Olympian who has partnered with brands during the Olympics.

Team USA Swimmer Missy Franklin partnered with Minute Maid as part of the #DoinGood campaign. Her video generated more than 20,000 actions and 146,000 views, and directs audiences to Minute Maid’s website. Women’s Volleyball player April Ross posted a photo that tagged hair products maker Aussie . That post generated nearly 16,000 actions, about 67x more engagement captured by the average Aussie Instagram post during the Olympics.

Brands are also partnering with former Olympians as social influencers. Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin, who represented USA Gymnastics in past games, both have published posts featuring their brand partnerships. Liukin has posted about Coca-Cola , Marc Fischer shoes and Caraa luxury sports bags. Johnson has posted on behalf of the American Egg Board , Sargento Cheese , Dove and Smuckers.



The Smuckers GIF is more subtle, only tagged with the #PBJ4TeamUSA hashtag. It generated 56,000 actions and 247,000 views. By contrast, the average Smuckers Instagram post during the Olympics has generated about 200 actions.

If you were wondering, some of the most-engaged Instagram posts from top brands such as Nike and Under Armour since Aug. 5 feature Olympians. Posts include gymnasts Simone Biles and Douglas ; track and field athletes English Gardner and Allyson Felix ; and swimmer Michael Phelps .

We’ll have more about branded content, including Olympics sponsors, later this week as our daily posts about the Rio games on social continue.

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