Team Canada’s Fan Engagement Play


How do you keep the momentum going and engage with true fans after the lights go out on the closing ceremonies?

Team Canada's Fan Engagement Play

Every two years, the world focuses its attention on those among us with near super-human abilities. What takes an average person thousands of attempts to nail for their online “trick shot” video, these athletes can do live. The Olympics is a spectacle beyond compare, and from the opening ceremony to the last medal they command the global spotlight.

In that time period, an incredible amount of “10x Content” is created. 10x Content is a term coined in 2015 to describe content that breaks through the clutter in today’s online landscape—content 10 times better than anything else a user can find. Anything under that bar, and you can’t expect to rank in the coveted front page of search results. From this perspective, the wealth of incredible videos, images, and articles generated over the course of the Olympics is a marketer’s dream come true. For Team Canada in particular, this is doubly true when it comes to the Winter Olympics—where Canadian athletes consistently punch above their weight.

While this seems like a dream come true for the Canadian Olympic Committee, there’s a catch: for most, the Olympics is only top of mind for one month every two years—and during that period, every media outlet in the world jumps on the bandwagon.

When the Canadian Olympic Committee (the non-profit organization that represents Canada at the Olympics) approached our team at Zync to be their Official Digital Partner, this was the single biggest challenge. How do we engage with audiences during the “downtime” between Olympics? And while they’re on how do we compete against the multi-million-dollar global media outlets broadcasting the games? To overcome these challenges, we had to focus in on the one element the Canadian Olympic Committee had the greatest access to—the Canadian athletes.

Starting in 2013, we began to map out a new content strategy for olympic.ca—one that could adapt itself to both the demands of the active Olympic Games season, and the downtime. Beyond just the table stakes of responsive design for mobile, fully searchable, and fast load times, we had to rethink the way the website was built from the ground up—with the athletes themselves at the core. The website became a virtual encyclopedia of information on each athlete—a one-stop shop where Canadians could truly get to know these incredible individuals and hear their stories. It became a place where Canadians could quickly bring themselves up to speed with our team and learn about the exciting prospects for the upcoming Olympics. It became a home base for Team Canada.

The downtime between games also presented another challenge: how do you keep the momentum going and engage with true fans after the lights go out on the closing ceremonies? To address this challenge, we created the Olympic Club—a gamified platform where Canadian “torchbearers” receive points for following their favorite athletes, playing games, sharing content with friends and more. The points can be redeemed for chances to win any number of exciting prizes; from a replica Team Canada Opening Ceremony parka, to digital downloads like videos and computer/smartphone backgrounds. All of this also had to be tied to engaging content that would inspire Canadians to keep checking back, to see Team Canada’s progress in the off-season.

By leveraging their content intelligently and focusing on the athletes, we were able to increase traffic to olympic.ca by 5,000%—getting recognized by the Webby Awards in the process. Like our Team Canada athletes themselves, olympic.ca is truly going for gold.

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