By Caitlin Kullberg
In case you missed it, the United States Olympic Committee trademarked many Olympics-related hashtags, restricting their use by companies and non-sponsor corporations. This won’t prevent regular people like you and me from using #Rio2016 as we live-tweet the Opening Ceremony or catch up on the action, but even small, local businesses have to tone back the tags. BBC News explains the USOC’s presumptive reasoning for such an action:
“It’s part of an attempt to prevent so-called ‘ambush marketing’, where companies who haven’t paid for Olympic rights slyly associate themselves with the games in an attempt to gain additional attention for their products. Criticism has come, however, because the hashtags they have trademarked are so broad – there’s likely to be a huge social media discussion about the events in Rio – and many would argue that companies are not advertising if they want to simply wish Team USA good luck (source).”
Regardless of whether they’re taking it too far or just trying to do right by the official sponsors, hashtags aren’t the safest way to be topical for the next few weeks. Here are a few ways to harness Olympic fever without peppering your social channels with those coveted hashtags:
If you have TVs…
This one’s a no-brainer. If you’ve got a salon, cafe, restaurant, bar, etc. with televisions for your customers’ enjoyment, it’s a great time to switch the channel to NBC. What?! You mean I can watch Michael Phelps while getting my nails done?!
Let the streaming begin!
Even if you don’t have televisions at your place of business, you must have Wi-Fi. If you offer Wi-Fi to your customers, let them know! All Olympic events and happenings can be streamed right from your mobile device via the NBC Sports apps. It’s not against the rules to tweet, ‘gram, or post on Facebook about your Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you could post a sign or sandwich board right outside to bring in passersby. Luckily, the Olympic content happens at all hours for the couple weeks to come, so no worries if you aren’t open at primetime.
Watching Sports = Snacks
Plenty of fans watch the competition from the comfort of their own living room on their big screen…which means they need take out! If you’re a food establishment, you can reap the benefits of the hungry viewers in your neighborhood. Consider offering a discount for Team USA (or Canada!) fans, jersey-wearers, or another segment of your choosing. Tweet about how well your fried pickles complement a killer floor routine. The Super Bowl isn’t the only sporting event that calls for both pizza and wings.
The Olympics Games are undoubtedly inspirational. From people who have overcome great hardships to compete on the world stage to athletes who are just purely awe-inspiring, it’s no wonder so many Olympians are role models. Harness this inspiration! If you have a sporting goods store, martial arts studio, driving range, fitness club, gymnastics facility, dance studio, sailing center, gym, or anything else that aims to get people active and healthy, now’s the time to boost awareness. Post on social about how people can (and should!) aim high and that everyone needs to start somewhere – just avoid using that sacred hashtag!
Even though we’re “banned” from using #TeamUSA on social, it doesn’t mean we can’t support our athletes. Try for tweets and Facebook posts that are a little more coy. Hopefully you can still engage your followers without breaking the rules. Got an athlete from your area? Even better (and that’s awesome)! Rep fan-favorite Simone Biles if you’re from the Columbus, OH area. Stream the races to watch the three members of the US Track & Field team from Massachusetts. Find out what athletes are from your state or area here: http://www.teamusa.org/road-to-rio-2016/team-usa/athletes
Don’t let “the man” (the USOC in this case) stop you from joining in on the worldwide conversation that is the 2016 Rio Olympics. Let us know if you’re planning something different to boost traffic or sales during the Olympics!