What Non-Profits Can Learn About Using Social Media From The Olympics

The 2014 Winter Olympics brought with them two things, a collection of medals and a collection of lessons.

No matter what country you call home, how much you know about sports like curling and the biathlon, or what you do for the living, the Sochi Games could teach all a thing or two.

As the athletes leave Russia and the flame begins its four-year journey to Pyeongchang, we believe there is lots to learn from the Olympics that can help non-profits on social media. We decided to look at three of these lessons a little more.

Being a Part of a Community Feels Good

Canadians from coast to coast packed pubs and bars as early as 4 a.m. to watch the nation’s men’s hockey team play for gold. Why did they do such a thing? While the one-day loosening of liquor laws was a factor, the main reason was that Canadians felt like they belonged to something bigger than themselves. They felt like they belonged to a community.

Creating a similar community online for your organization and its members will help yield similar results. Giving your staff, volunteers, members, donors, etc., an opportunity to get involved and be part of an experience will help generate pride, passion and ultimately a loyal and engaged community. Conducting a Twitter chat about a recent event, offering a chance to contribute an article for your blog or giving an opportunity to share a song on your organization’s Spotify playlist are all ways to use social media include your customers and build a community.

Handle Mistakes With Care

The first images of Sochi were not of picturesque mountains or triumphant athletes, but rather horrible hotel rooms and undrinkable water. These pictures, made famous by reporters, spread through social media. Instead of addressing these problems, Games’ Organizer Dmitry Chernyshenko responded by telling journalists to “turn back and look at the mountains.”

Social media comes with greater interactions and greater transparency, but this also opens your organization up to greater scrutiny and potentially greater criticism. The best way to handle this criticism is to face it head on. Have a plan in place to address mistakes made or complaints received. Don’t be confrontational or flippant. Find a solution quickly and use social media to improve your organization, turning a displeased customer into a loyal community member.

Gold Medals Don’t Always Define Greatness

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris won bronze in the slopestyle competition, but in a post-event interview he had this to say about the third-place finish, “It feels like a gold medal to me.” Considering McMorris had broken his ribs just a month before Sochi, a bronze medal was a tremendous achievement for him.

Many organizations, not just non-profits and associations, can get caught up in getting a ‘gold medal’ in social media, i.e. a large number of followers/fans/etc., and lose focus on other important indicators of success. Measuring social media ROI success is based on many factors and indicators, including how big your organization is, how new the organization is to social media and how many interactions the account is receiving. The most important thing to keep in mind is to build on recent successes to increase not just the quantity of engagement, but the quality as well.

The Olympics have come and gone for another year. The lessons that the world-class athletes have taught us can be applied to our everyday lives. What transpired in Sochi can especially be applied to non-profits and associations on social media. Remembering that community, transparency and patience can often be the best tools for success is important.  All are characteristics that will take your organization to the next level.

What do you think organizations can learn from the Olympics? Let us know in the comments! And remember, stay social!

One thought on “What Non-Profits Can Learn About Using Social Media From The Olympics

  1. Pingback: Looking Back At the Year That Was: Trends and Topics for Non-profits and Social Media | Incline Marketing

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