Social Media is Changing the Way we Experience the Olympics

Did you follow the Winter Olympics? This year, my primary source for the first time was social media. Not only has social media provided a great platform for keeping everyone up to date on what is going on, but it is changing the experience of the games – for both athletes and those of us watching and cheering them on from home.

It lets the fans at home participate.

Athletes are using social media to broadcast their individual Olympic experience and share it with the world. Fans can now experience the Olympics through the eyes of the athletes, taking us behind the scenes and experiencing what it would be like to be in Korea. We are no longer relying on the media and only seeing what they chose to broadcast.

Social media also brings fans together and creates conversations online. CBC Olympics, my primary source for Olympics news, had over 64,000 followers on Instagram and over 154,000 likes on Facebook [as of 02/26/18]. By commenting on their posts or starting our own conversations using #CBCOlympics, people all over the country could unite in support of Team Canada. Using #PyeongChang2018, viewers from ALL OVER THE WORLD could follow, comment, cheer and converse together. That to me is part of what the Olympic spirit is all about.

The downside.

Unfortunately, not all the attention online around the Olympics has been positive. For example, take the case of Kim Boutin, the who came in 4th place in the 500m short track but moved into 3rd after Korea’s Choi Min-jeong was disqualified for interference after originally finishing second. According to CBC, once that happened, Boutin’s social media account started to be flooded with negative and threatening messages, including “Aren’t you ashamed to have cheated in the Olympic Games” and “If I find you, you will die”.


A snapshot of Boutin’s social media page (source: CBC)

I found it really unfortunate to see how people were using social media to send harmful messages, bringing down both the athlete, who needed to continue to complete, and the spirit of the games. The comments forced Boutin to shut down her social media profiles and started a police and IOC investigation. It wouldn’t surprise me if these types of situations lead to creating some stricter regulations around social media and the Olympics going forward.

It can commemorate a moment.


gif created of Scott Moir at the women’s hockey gold medal match that has dominated social media. (Source: Facebook Messenger)

My favourite social media moment of the Olympics has to be Scott Moir. Social media took a TV clip of the Canadian figure skater being a fan at the women’s hockey gold medal game – a clip I’m sure most people didn’t even notice – and turned it into a memorable gif and meme that caught a lot of attention on social media.

We have all learned that with increased visibility comes increased responsibility. Luckily for Scott, his comments were clean, respectable and reflective of a lot of the Canadians watching the game (seriously, are you kidding me??). It turned him into a hero of the Olympics for something other than his medals.

For more examples of defining social media moments of the 2018 Winter Olympics, and proof that the world is watching and taking note, check out this article on the 5 Best Social Media Memes of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

As social media continues to evolve, I’m sure the way we experience the Olympics will follow suit. For the 2018 Olympics, I enjoyed being a part of the conversation online, getting the inside scoop and watching history being made for Canada.

How did you follow the 2018 Winter Olympics? Can you think of other ways social media is changing the Olympics?

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Social Media is Changing the Customer Service Landscape – are Companies Ready for it?

As social media becomes more ingrained in organizations’ strategies for communicating with their customers, the natural extension is that is has become a new platform through which to provide customer service.

Traditionally, there have been two main channels for receiving remote (not in person) customer service: telephone and email. Today, it has involved to include social media. This introduction is pushing customer service into the spotlight and forcing companies to take a serious look at the level of service they are providing. The question is, will


Source: Business First Family

organizations step up and use it as an opportunity to differentiate themselves or shy

away from the challenge? Below I have outlined some of the key benefits and obstacles of customer service via social media that I think organizations need to consider.

Some Benefits

  • Provides customers with options. Gone are the days when you have to be available to call them between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Now, you can write a Facebook message at any time or Tweet at them from anywhere. By opening up more channels for customers to get help in, it is allowing them to have more flexibility and find a time and channel that works for their schedule, a big win for the customer.
  • Helps companies handle volume. Think of all the time spent by telephone Reps answering simple questions from customers. If these questions were asked over social media, the social media responder can answer these questions in much less time – for both the Rep and customer – allowing them to serve a higher volume of customers throughout the day.
  • Cost Savings. It is extremely expensive to run a call centre compared to a social media team so if more customers turn online, this could be a significant cost savings for the organization. Furthermore, if you answer a common question online for all customers to see, it may answer their questions as well and eliminate their need to contact you. Another win-win.

Some Obstacles

  • Customer complaints and comments are now public. Gone are the days when a company can deal with a situation quietly and as a one-off resolution. Customers are taking to Twitter, Facebook and other networks to express their frustrations with a brand and when they do, it immediately works as negative press against the brand as it is posted for everyone to see it.
  • Lost value of a personal conversation. Nothing beats a solid live conversation with a phone Rep, the only way you can truly make the experience personal. The organization I work with has an award winning call centre and I can tell you, no one loves our product the way our Reps do, and the value that comes out of a good conversation with one of them is unmatched. If fewer customers are calling in to speak to a live person, this decreases the opportunities to have those conversations and creating lasting impressions and brand affinity with our customers.
  • Customer expectations on wait times are high. Astute Solutions suggests that the benchmark for wait times for responses on social media is 1 hour. That is not a lot of time. Customers won’t care if your social media team is at lunch, or on vacation. If organizations take too long to respond, it could lead to negative experience for the customer and do more damage than the flexibility of customer service via social media can positively create.

Customer expectations are higher than ever and the points above are by no means exhaustive. There is a saying in the customer experience world: a customers’ expectation of you is based on their last great customer service experience. That means that we are no longer competing within ourselves or within our industry. If a customer received amazing treatment from an airline representative, they will then hold their bank teller to the same expectations the next time they see them. With customer service expanding to a new platform, especially one that can be compared easily across brands (for example RBC and Air Canada both have Facebook pages, why should you expect different service from them on it?), companies are being held to new levels of expectations.

Personally, I think social media is offering up new opportunities for organizations to provide top class customer service, but I am not sure organizations have embraced it and prepared themselves with plans tackle the challenges. Organizations need to see these higher expectations as a challenge to step up to and an opportunity to connect and impress their customers in new ways.

Do you think organizations are ready to take on social media as a new platform for customer service?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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To Post or Not to Post: How do You Travel?

I was on vacation last week and spent my time road tripping around Texas with my husband, Steve. We had an amazing time, but once again I was faced with the same question I always seem to face when travelling: do I want to share my adventures on social media?

Steve and I travel often and we do some pretty cool stuff. Before we leave, friends are often encouraging me to keep them updated on our adventures by posting online. It seems like a pretty simple request, but it never seems to come that easily to me. By the time I get back to the hotel in the evening, the idea of connecting to the wi-fi, selecting the best photos, deciding on filters and edits and coming up with some clever hashtags seems like a chore. And the word chore is not in my vacation dictionary.

Am I sharing or searching for validation?

We’ve all been there. You make a post and then you can’t help but look back an hour later to check if anyone has liked it yet. Everyone else seems to constantly be posting about amazing destinations they are visiting. I go to just as many cool places, should I be telling everyone about it as well?

A view of a large room carved underground by water passing through the limestone between 20-40,000 years ago. Some water still remains at the bottom.

A photo I took inside the Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown, Texas during my 2018 vacation.

A 2016 University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences study, which surveyed 1,787 US millennials, found that ‘Exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.’ Could that also mean that we feel the urge to post our own exciting events as validation that we are living up to the perhaps unreal expectations that social media is setting? Even right now I’m using this blog to shamelessly share some photos of my adventures.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said before that I think the root of social media is connectivity. I love that it enables me to share my adventures from all over the world with friends and family at home. And I know that at least some of the friends I have on online are genuinely interested. What’s the big deal?

An opportunity to disconnect.

Steve and I have a running joke that we need to go off the continent for us to fully disconnect. Work seems to be able to find us anywhere in North America, and when work is on, so is everything else.

We went to Africa a couple of years ago for our honeymoon and we decided not to bring our cell phones with us. Crazy, I know. I’ll admit, it was a strange feeling at first (especially while still at the airport in Canada), but once our plane took off, I can say I didn’t even think about it. It was actually liberating to not be tempted to respond to emails or check my Facebook feed – we were fully on vacation.

A photograph of me observing an elephant off the back of a jeep in the jungle in Tanzania.

Me observing an elephant in Tanzania, Africa in 2016. Photo credit to Steve.

I’m not saying I would prefer to be without a smartphone. I’ll be the first to admit I love my iPhone and all the clever hacks it adds to my life. I spend more time on Facebook and Pintrest than I probably should, but I’m not ashamed of it. I love being connected and having a world of information at my fingertips, but I also appreciate being able to disconnect from time to time.

What is the balance?

Typically I end up making a post or two throughout the week on vacation and then one solid post when I get home, highlighting the best pictures and activities of the vacation. It may not be exciting, up to the minute updates, but it seems to suit me. How do you approach social media when you travel? I would love some tips on striking a balance between disconnecting and sharing or other approaches towards sharing your travel adventures online.


 To Post or Not to Post: How do you Travel?

 To Post or Not to Post: How do you #Travel? #vacationsharing

Behaviour Economics: What the heck is it and what does it mean for Social Media?

First, I have to declare that I am not a behavioural economist, nor do I pretend to be one. However, I have had some exposure to it over the last year and have learned how to apply the behavioural economics (BE for short) theories to marketing. I think they translate well into social media strategies so below you will find two BE theories and how I think we can leverage them alongside social media tactics.

Behavioural Economics: Not as Scary as it Sounds

When I first learned about BE, it was presented to me by a company who did not employ anyone who didn’t have a Ph.D. Right away I thought that there is no way I am smart enough to understand this! However, as I learned more about it I realized how much of this I was already applying and how much else I could learn from it.

Behavioral Economics is an interdisciplinary science blending psychology, economics, and neuroscience to understand human behavior and decision-making (source: BE Works). That is quite the definition, so what does it mean to us? To marketers, it provides insight into consumer behaviour – what persuades our customers to act and respond a certain way. If you can understand how people tend to act, you can attempt to predict how they will respond to your marketing efforts.

If you want a broader explanation, check out this video by Influence at Work (2012), where Dr. Robert Cialdini describes The Power of Persuasion. It is 11 mins long, but worth the watch!

So how does science relate to social media?

There are two BE theories that kept popping into my head this week as I was learning about social media tactics:

1. Social Reciprocity: Gifting, thanking and apologizing are effective ways (above mere compensation) to increase or maintain customer satisfaction. (Source: Behavioural Science Solutions Ltd.)

This means that as consumers, we place more value on gifts, acknowledgements and apologies than businesses often take into account. If customers can be more satisfied with an apology than mere monetary compensation, this is an easy win for a brand.

It seems to me that more and more people are turning to social media to complain. Given how quickly social media allows companies to react, it provides a perfect platform to respond quickly to customer comments and complaints in a quick and personal manner. I’m not saying that ‘I’m sorry’ is the answer to everything (compensation can be the right thing to do sometimes). However, if companies can save even a fraction of the money paid out to upset customers or save the time of phone reps by decreasing the number of inbound complaint calls by using social media posts, then that’s a pretty solid business case.

I’ll give you a personal example. A couple of years ago I was on a train where the advertised wi-fi was not working. I tweeted at the company that I was disappointed and they promptly replied apologizing and asking for details about which car I was on so that they could have someone fix the wi-fi. I was very impressed and instantly less angry about the situation.

2. Social Proof: Shows that many people endorsing a desired behaviour increases our likelihood of adopting that behaviour. (Source: Behavioural Science Solutions Ltd.)

This BE theory tells us that the more we see other people like or do something, the more likely we are to do that behaviour as well. If brands can find a way to show potential consumers how many people are already engaging with their brand and how much they like it, these potential consumers are more likely to engage themselves.

Sound familiar? My guess is a lot of you went directly to the same place I did: Facebook likes. This scientific theory demonstrates the importance of engaging consumers online and encouraging them to share their interactions, feelings and thoughts. If social media is all about sharing and connecting, then this scientific theory justifies the investment in social media for businesses.

Just the tip of the iceberg.

Behavioural economics is a huge field of study, and I don’t pretend to be an expert in it, but I do believe there is a lot there that marketers can learn from it. The theories above are just two of the many ways in which marketing and behavioral economics can work together. I hope you found this just as interesting and I do and encourage you to keep it in mind as you build out your social media strategies.

As you read through, did other examples of social reciprocity or social proof come to mind?

  Two ways social media and science walk hand in hand.

Science and social media relate? Who knew! #socialmediatips