Social Media

How NBC Used Digital PR to Drive Record Olympics Tune-In

November 14, 2012

The Olympics is a massively popular and widely watched event. For the 2012 Olympic Games, 360i client NBC took viewership to the next level, making the event the most watched in history.

At the WOMMA Summit earlier today, Sarah Hofstetter, President of 360i, and Ruthie Wittenberg, Senior Marketing Director at NBC Universal shared how we used a smart digital PR strategy to generate branded social buzz, engage with core fans ahead of the games and attract new network viewers.

To achieve record tune-in, we put social at the core of NBC’s digital ecosystem. Designed to be innately sharable and engaging, we used social listening to inform our strategy, tapping digital influencers and launching multi-channel extensions to fuel the campaign.

Here are some key takeaways from the effort:

[1] Know your audience. We used research to identify our core influencers and target audiences for outreach. This data led to the discovery that millennial women and moms would be an important audience to reach in 2012, as there was a gap in conversation among this group. Armed with this research, we were able to launch unprecedented activations, such as an editorial partnership with Zooey Deschanel’s, with confidence.

[2] Customize the experience. Understanding who our target audience was allowed us to tailor unique opportunities by audience segment, motivating each to join our conversation. This was critical in making sure our message resonated – we not only identified who our audience was, but also how best to engage with them. We knew moms love engaging on Twitter, so we hosted a #TeamMom Twitter party with celebrity hosts that included former Olympic medalists and popular parenting bloggers.

[3] Expand your footprint with influencers. By placing influencers at the center of our campaign, we were able to leverage wider social footprints to amplify our message. Content seeded to this group prior to the Games created anticipation that would later drive and sustain tune-in during the Games. For example, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony, the USOC and NBC turned Times Square into a mini Olympic Village for the day and granted an army of entertainment influencers VIP access to the event.

[4] Build a framework. Consumers get information from more sources than ever, making a cross-platform presence a must for brands. We designated roles for each of our own social channels to make sure we were using them to achieve a smarter social spread – served as our digital hub, while Facebook promoted key moments of excitement, Tumblr celebrated our fans and Twitter updated conversations in real-time.

Built on these core guideposts, the NBC Olympic digital PR campaign was an unequivocal success, helping the network set the record for the most-watch event in American television history. Influencer marketing efforts generated 124 million impressions – a 2,500 percent increase from the Beijing Games. In addition, female tune-in eclipsed both the Beijing & Vancouver Games.