5 Social Media Lessons from the Winter Olympics

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the Olympics? I love it all. The athletes, the spectacle, the performances, the pomp and circumstance of it all have me tuning in day and night to watch everything from curling to speed skating to slope style skiing and everything in between.


It struck me the other day that some of what makes the Olympics such a fun and spectacular event are also what makes social media fun, as well. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look.

You can get caught up in the glitz and glamour.

The costumes. The sequins. The extravagance. Maybe you’re consumed with over-reported details, or the commercials over-hyping athletes, but at some point you realize that the most compelling stories or performances aren’t the ones with the most glitz and glamour. Sound familiar? Too often social media gets wrapped up in a blanket of superficiality. It’s not about the number of fans, followers or likes you have — it’s about the substance. If you’re too easily seduced by the glitz and the glamour, you’ll miss the extraordinary experiences.

Mistakes happen. It’s how you recover that matters.

Were you watching when men’s figure skater Jeremy Abbot fell during his short-skate program and remained still, curled up on the ice? Did you think that his Olympics was over? If you changed the channel, you missed the most incredible comeback performance in which the crowd motivated Jeremy to get up, dust himself off and skate the rest of his program beautifully.


What does this have to do with social media? Perhaps the reason your school has been wading cautiously into the social media waters is because of the fear of making a big mistake. While you should prepare for worst case scenarios, there’s no reason to fear making mistakes. Every mistake is a learning experience and if you don’t fall down every once in awhile, you’ll never have an opportunity to prove yourself worthy of a comeback.

When it’s done right, it’s magical.

In every Olympics there’s that moment when you realize you’ve just witnessed an extraordinary, history-making performance. Perhaps it’s watching Evgeni Plushenko skate his last skate and winning a gold medal in the Team Figure Skating competition, or watching Erin Hamlin become the first US woman to ever medal in a luge event, or watching the women’s hockey team play Canada — regardless of what it is, there’s a moment when all the hard work pays off.




We mere mortals recently experienced something similar to Sage Kotsenburg’s cab 720 (above) — Durham Academy’s snow day announcement video. Everything about this video is perfect — it’s fun, authentic and conveys the excitement of the moment (snow in North Carolina?!) and it’s executed in a medium that works across platform — no matter where you are.

Having a story, sells.

You know what beats a mediocre performance? A great story. When it comes to the Olympics, the odds are good that you remember the athletes’ stories more than their performances. This year isn’t any different. There’s the mother of two who travels with her husband and children to compete in Skeleton races, the men’s figure skater from the Philippines who is coached by his mother and survived the recent typhoon to qualify for the free skate, not to mention Maxime, Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, sisters from Canada who compete together and against each other for medals in freestyle mogul skiing. Having a great story is sometimes all it takes to become memorable — even if you don’t win a medal.



Social media is the same way. You can post updates, but if you don’t have the right message or tell a compelling story, there’s little reason for people to remember you. You don’t have to the be the best school or the prettiest school, but you can be the school that tells the best stories about its history, its students, its faculty and its future. Once you learn how to tell your school’s story — you’ll find that people will remember you because of the way you made a connection with them.

It’s all about the connections you make.

When you put hundreds of athletes in a single location for two weeks, relationships are bound to form — despite language or cultural differences. One of my favorite parts of the Olympics is when I see athletes helping other athletes. Whether it’s a runner offering a water bottle to another, or another country’s coach assisting a skier with his ski, human moments like these are what the Olympics are all about.




On social media, it’s all about relationships. How many connections have you made on LinkedIn or on Twitter that have led you to amazing opportunities? Think about how many people you follow or who follow you who are from a different city, state or country. Once you catch the spirit of social media it’s easy to meet new people, experience new things and make lasting connections.

Marisa Peacock

Marisa Peacock

Principal/Chief Strategist at The Strategic Peacock

Marisa Peacock is the principal and chief strategist for The Strategic Peacock. As a social media strategist and marketing consultant, Marisa helps organizations create and implement online strategies that appropriately target the right audience with the right information using the right media. Additionally, Marisa is an adjunct faculty member at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) where she teaches Social Media Marketing as a part of the Masters in Business of Art and Design program. She resides in Arlington, VA.