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#TeamCanada: Gold Medal for Digital Strategy

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games have come to an end, and while some of us are thinking of whether these were the K-Pop or Instagram Olympics, others are in awe of the final result. In fact, there are some familiar nations atop the final medal standings.

Norway, Germany, and Canada surmassed the highest medal counts, with Canada’s 29 medal haul accounting for its best ever performance at the Winter Olympics – even better than their home-ice success in Vancouver back in 2010.

But Canada’s success at these Games aren’t just about the number of medaled athletes; Canada has also reached the podium for its digital strategy. With over 500,00 tweets (est) alone on #TeamCanada, the size of user engagement emphasizes the emergence of the Canadian Olympic Committee as a digital powerhouse.

This recent success is a culmination of a rebranding approach that occurred with the assistance of design firm, Hulse & Durrell. With a reinvigorated brand identity, Team Canada became the most recognizable Olympic team brand in the world, according to a 2014 global iconography study.

The COC also realized that Canadians are an active population on social media platforms. A recent report from the Social Media Lab at Ryerson University provides the details of how connected Canadians are.

Previous research has also demonstrated that Canadians are very active on social media in discussing the Olympics and cheering on Canadian athletes. Researchers have found that when a hashtag resonates with Canadian sport fans, they are eager to join in and lend their voices. Canadian national sport organizations have been active on social media and research indicates they do see the value in providing content through these channels

Therefore, the renewed brand approach from the COC also included new ad campaigns initiated to build digital interest in Team Canada, including #wearewinter for the Sochi 2014, #iceinourveins for Rio 2016, and #beolympic for the PyeongChang Games. These hashtags serve as anchors for the digital strategy at each Games, providing a central theme to drive content and engagement. And a place for Canadian sport fans to join in and support their athletes.

However, Team Canada’s digital success is not solely relegated to its unique, catchy hashtag themes. The co-creation of online content with key partners such as Canadian Tire and Molson-Coors have produced some of the most viral content including the “red door” videos which capture fans at Cadillac Fairview shopping malls (another major partner) communicating with athletes and family at Canada’s Olympic House in PyeongChang.

On its own, Team Canada has also worked to develop the Olympic Club, an online community for fans to access news and information about the team, play games, win prizes, and share content on their own social feeds. While the superficial value of the Olympic Club is in its ability to bring fans closer than ever before, its true genius is the ability to build a virtual database gaining deeper insights into demographics and behaviours.

Then, of course, there’s just good ol’ fashion tweeting. Team Canada’s digital team came to play this year with high quality visual posts.

And who could forget everyone’s favourite Canadian sweethearts, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They were selected to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremonies. After the ice dance pair won two gold medals, Team Canada digital was quick to capitalize on the viral sensation they became.

Virtue and Moir were featured in many social media posts for @TeamCanada and integrated into the Olympic Club plans as well.

Team Canada was on its digital game when Canadian film start Ryan Reynolds displayed his usual Twitter humour for Scott and Tessa.

So, when we think back to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games let’s not forget Canada’s memorable victory on the snow and ice, and in the digital space.