Week 148 (6 – 12 August 2016)
Anyone watching Rio 2016 this week is almost certainly part of a clearly perceptible shift to the future. The way we watch and engage with the Olympic Games has forever changed and some have embraced this more quickly and completely than others. For its social media engagement efforts to support Team USA, this week's JTA Communicator of the Week is the USOC's Team USA & Budweiser Digital Command Center.
Established with support of key domestic sponsor Budweiser, the USOC's social media work is being run out of a dedicated facility, based at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center.
Content created or shared by the Digital Command Center is heavy on video. This is critical to gaining shares on social media platforms, whose algorithms have all been tweaked during the last 12 months to heavily skew towards the moving image.
Pre-competition clips provide a backstory to the efforts in Rio, building on an approach itself pioneered by American Roone Arledge's production of 10 Olympic Games broadcasts for ABC. The human side of the athletes and their preparation is emphasised in a way that will resonate with the widest possible cross section of fans.
After competitions, content from medallists is posted almost immediately, to share excitement, create a sense of a winning team and thank supporters.
Support is a critical theme for the USOC, which is among a tiny minority of NOCs that depend solely on private sponsorship and donations. So it's no surprise that gratitude for that support (and encouragement towards more) should be a key theme as the USOC seeks to capitalise on 17 days of unparalleled exposure.
With so many consumers of the Games using phones and tablets as second screens, social media is effectively being leveraged by the USOC as a tool to support NBC's broadcasts and competition streams. The use of backstage photos, in particular, shows a keen understanding of the IOC's social media guidelines and of the success of Rio 2016 innovations, like TV coverage of the swimmers' ready room #phelpsface.
There is little better demonstration of self-awareness in the world of social media, meanwhile, than a photo of a Twitter camera being used. The Digital Command Center is doing a great job and is not afraid to show it.
Momentary brilliance, however, is of little help to a team of 555 athletes having won nearly 50 medals in the first week of competition. The Herculean volume of posts across every popular platform on the Team USA accounts shows that this is a team that has prepared rigorously and is now at the top of its game. JTA salutes a standout performance.