The major sporting vent in the UK this summer is a truly global event with people from all corners of the world not only participating but following and supporting the actual events and accompanying activities. Many will travel to the UK to see the events and festivities in person, but for the millions of fans that will not, media coverage will be expansive to bring the happenings to everyone else. The committee guiding the major event in the UK has pushed the events in various ways online and through social media in years past, but this year the efforts are enhanced and more purposeful creating more engagement and an improved experience for fans.

In an interview with The Next Web, the Head of Social Media for the committee guiding the event, Alex Huot, describes the ambitious ins and outs of their social strategy. It is worth profiling here because what they are doing stands a great example for businesses in utilizing social media to successfully engage with its audience. The social team is focusing on engaging with a younger audience and this strategy was cemented when they launched a Facebook page for the upcoming games in January of 2010 and with Facebook insights they found that 65% were under 24 years old.

In the year prior to the games, the social team has been connecting with fans and learning what it is that they want to have available to them. This is a critical point. Although messages are instant and exposure can gain traction very quickly, that represents the time-frame of implementation. The planning and strategy can take much longer. As such, the social team did their formative research so they know exactly what their fans wanted, and now they can deliver it.

As a result, they have outlined 2 separate initiatives, the Athlete’s Hub and the I Copy U campaign. The first enables fans to connect with athletes from the Games asking them questions and gaining an inside the ropes perspective. The second gives fans the chance to mimic a photo of an athlete and post it for a chance to win a trip to the events and the team has been creating social chatter primarily on twitter over this campaign.

As a side note, there is a currency that the events have that cannot be denied and that is their exceptional product, the games themselves, so that does make it easier for the guiding committee social media marketers to achieve results. With that said, just because there is great interest and a great number of followers from the target audience does not mean there isn’t potential for failed strategy. The guiding committee knows this and has done their due diligence to develop and implement a meaningful social campaign.

Further, the team has established accounts in several different languages including English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and also connecting with those in China – so catering to specific markets. The biggest growth they indicate is in microblogging where across all accounts, they have 6.5 million followers. Facebook, Twitter, and Sina Weibo are the essential platforms they are using.

In sum, the biggest take-away for businesses is planning the time to do the formative research to establish exactly what it is that your audience wants. Engage them to understand them better and formulate a proper strategy, and them implement accordingly.

Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com if you want more information regarding how your business can utilize social media or international SEO when catering to specific contexts.