As effective marketers and communicators, we are constantly seeking new and improved ways to reach our audience or customer base. These days, our “online lives” intersect with every activity we are involved in, so timeliness is essential. With fresh ideas and engaging, perhaps interactive, content, we can literally make a difference in the lives of our audience.
Much of this can be developed and organized through a well thought-out content calendar in advance that seeks to align our content with upcoming events and trends that our audience is interested in. But oftentimes, a movement can seemingly come out of nowhere (such was the case with Pokemon Go) and really dominate the online conversation, causing us to evaluate mid-operation the content that we are putting out.
Should we enter the convo (what some may call ‘hijack the hashtag’)? If done with tact, there’s a potential huge opportunity to insert your brand with an on-the-fly content strategy.
As much as we can, we must prepare ahead of time if we want this to be successful and not come out looking overtly opportunistic and inauthentic. This certainly starts with having a solid grasp of our brand’s message, and our content—near-ready for posting and easily accessible at a moment’s notice.
We must deliver content in a contextually relevant way. Delivering the right piece of content at the right time through the right channel is as much an art as it is a science. Of course, you don’t want to be a culprit of ambush marketing, and certainly not tied to the clickbait links lurking all over internet articles and social media, which often leaves readers feeling tricked, cheated, or otherwise dissatisfied.
U.S. Department of State, flickr
Over the next few weeks, Olympic discussion is set to dominate the news cycle and brands will be anxiously seeking to find a way to grow their audience and reach millions of potential customers. But be aware, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) issued a memo in advance of the Rio Olympics warning that non sponsors’ online accounts should not reference any Olympic results, share, or retweet anything from the official Olympic account, or use official hashtags including #Rio2016 and #TeamUSA.
How does that affect those of us in the government? Mike Kruger at the Department of Commerce (DOC) recommends we talk with our agency’s general counsel, as the “USOC has special statutory privileges not extended to other organizations.”
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reviewed the memo and the law around usage and it turns out that certain terms and logos of the USOC have special statutory protections (see 36 U.S.C. § 220506). Per USPTO and DOC general counsel:
- Do NOT use any USOC logos or images EVER
- Do NOT use the USOC hashtags for promotion of USG
- Unacceptable – “#Rio2016 is happening in Brazil. Learn how @TradeGov can help your business export to Brazil”
- USG likely can meet an exception for use of the hashtags and terms IF YOU MEET an educational standard
- Acceptable – “The Olympic Flame is a trademarked image, dating back to 1912. #Rio2016” (see additional acceptable USPTO examples from the Sochi Olympics below)
Said Mike, “You can AND SHOULD review the specific guidelines covering use for editorial purposes, by community organizations, and for educational purposes available here.”
So how can you tap Into the Olympic Games convo without annoying the USOC? Generally speaking, avoid making direct reference to the Olympics and using their hashtags, and instead, consider inserting your brand into the surrounding discussion.
Talk to your lawyers and take some calculated risks, or latch onto surrounding fan trends and inspire a new, more interesting perspective for your team to explore, while having some fun and showcasing your brand in a fun and engaging way, without running into any entanglements.
Here’s a popular hashtag or two you could use: #bomdia, #riodejaniero, #familia, #brasil, #rio
How about your agency or organization – do you have an ‘on-the-fly’ content strategy? What’s your content plan for the Olympics?