Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, we saw the action before, during, and after scenes from 2016 Summer Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, and America’s #FinalFive.

The games are a great case study of social media done right and higher ed professionals should take note.



Anything can happen during an event. Your star makes a face and the world wants a meme.

Catch that wave and ride it through. Hamilton College did just that in this perfectly timed tweet.

It’s much easier to cultivate an audience that’s already engaged. Work smarter, not harder, by harnessing user generated content and looking for opportunities to join the conversation your constituents are already having online.


Special events aren’t an excuse to be irreverent or incorrect. Check to make sure your tone is on point. The Olympic social media team isn’t offensive or crude, but they do have fun while poking fun. For example, USA gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents were literally squirming in the stands watching her routines every night. The social media team found a way to highlight their anxiety in a universal, light manner.

The University of Nebraska had a lot of fun a few years ago with their new chancellor, Harvey Perlman. Perlman was featured in a series of videos, Harvey’s Perls of Knowledge, waxing poetic on YOLO and the Harlem Shake. Although the topics weren’t serious, Perlman was able to bring the message back to Nebraska and simultaneously endear himself to the community.

Ok, I will admit it: if anyone else updated their Facebook Page 12 times a day, I would most likely unfollow them. But the way the Olympics social media team updated the Facebook Page, I find myself hitting that refresh key over and over again. That’s because it’s useful, informative information. What time will Katie Ledecky break (another) world record? Just how many track and field events are there? Interested viewers could find it on their Facebook Page.
(The answers, by the way, 9:32pm EST on August 12, 2017 and 26, respectively.)

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