9 insights to the Rio 2016 blog series

This final post reflects on the Rio 2016 blog analytics and assesses how our increasingly online World allowed us to build an online presence for canoeing. 

The Rio 2016 blog could be found on the ICF Planet Canoe website, under the Rio 2016 dropdown. The blog ran for 22 days with 28 posts during between July 24th and August 14th. Here is an account of what transpired and what can be learnt from the exercise.


One: Growth of 200% in a 4-year Olympic cycle

The Planet Canoe website showed a 200% growth in audience sessions during the Rio Olympics compared to London in 2012, according to Google Analytics.

 ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Google Analytics

The Rio Olympics also brought 3,000 new followers on Twitter and 1 million Twitter impressions during the month of August alone.


Two: Most popular among the 2,800 shares

The blog on the ICF website shows 2,800 shares, with the most shared posts being:

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom

Understandably, the number of shares rose from the Day 1 preview. Of the posts in the first 10 days the Feel The Ultimate Run, Rio 2016 Olympic Games Canoe Slalom Qualification, Canoe slalom from behind the lens and Spectators Guide to the X-Park were also very popular.

On Twitter, there were 100,000 impressions on the last day in Deodoro. This tweet received the highest engagement rate at 30%. 

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Top Tweet Engagement


Three: Driving the #ICFslalom hashtag

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Twitter

Each post included the tag #ICFslalom and was amplified through the @PlanetCanoe Twitter account. This was complimented by more than 700 live tweets from a MacBook Air and iPhone during the competitive runs on the @PlanetCanoe account.

A wide spectrum of hashtags associated with the Rio Olympics were trademarked with restrictions imposed upon their use. This appears counterproductive. You want widespread, universal use of hashtags. Whether this was the best approach is still a topic for debate. We will need to have a Twitter hashtag strategy for Tokyo 2020!

Much of the media and the public were using #CanoeSlalom and not searching #ICFslalom. Pushing organisations to use separate hashtags appears counterproductive. It makes it more difficult for people to find information using hashtags. I chose to continue use of the #ICFslalom hashtag. Using multiple hashtags detracts from trending.


Four: 2.2 million reach on Facebook

The Planet Canoe Facebook page became a focal point for much of the whole teams’ content distribution. The blog posts series was also amplified out the Planet Canoe’s popular Facebook page from the beginning of August. Videos with the athletes in Deodoro proved very popular content format and the multiple personal back-stories provided great depth to the overall coverage. It was a privilege to be part of the team. The total page likes now exceed 55,000 and reached 2.2 million during August.


Five: 6,000 stunningly photographs from Balint Vekassy

Each of the blog posts was superbly enhanced with the stunning photographer from Balint Vekassy.  Across the respective events, there were more than 6,000 images from which to choose. 

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom 

In the Canoe Slalom behind the lens and final posts celebrated this excellent photography. It was a pleasure to work with him. This is perhaps our favourite image from a remote camera mounted on the side of the course with a fish-eye lens. 

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom 


Six: Writing tools to help with 25,000 words

Each of the Rio 2016 blog posts was run through the free Hemingway Editor and Grammarly online tools. This improved the accuracy and readability of the resulting posts. I highly recommend the use of both tools. I ranked more active than 99% of Grammarly users during the period of these blogs. This writing app finds and corrects hundreds of complex writing errors. Invaluable.

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Grammarly

“Hemingway Editor helps make your writing bold and clear. It’s like a spellchecker, but for style. It makes sure that your reader will focus on your message, not your prose.”

We have added an index to the 29 Rio 2016 blog posts here.


Seven: Amplified with animations through Ripl_app

Ripl_app was used to add a new dimension to the promotion of the blog and hashtag through the Olympics and 2016 World Cup series.

I used Ripl_app to create 10-second animations to publicise the blog, upcoming posts, and the live Twitter commentary.

These attracted 1,900 views alone; spanning canoe slalom, canoe sprint and paracanoe.


Eight: Drive out through national federations

The breadth of national federations continues to broaden and take on an increasingly global audience. Many of the national federations did indeed promote many of the blog series posts. The blog series could have been communicated better in advance; encouraging them to share with their own local media and community of paddlers.


Nine: Educating the media

On reflection, this Rio 2016 blog had incredible capacity to educate the media. Although some media found the blog, I would recommend that we actively inform the media 3-6 months in advance of the pending blog series and utilize it as a vehicle to educate the media.

The media is better informed than the early days of canoe slalom in the media, yet there are some classic examples of where they lack familiarity with the sport, athletes, terms and nuances of the rules.


How does this relate to the business world? 

People trust content that they find themselves. Providing remarkable content builds online authority for brands. This applies equally to for-profit business as well as non-profits. We endeavoured to apply the best practices of the inbound methodology to engage visitors. 

If you do provide valuable content, your target personas will trust you. They will also share your content and become ambassadors for your brand. This expands your reach and drives new contacts to find you.

On Twitter, our recommendation to businesses is to pick one hashtag early, promote it and encourage everyone to use and search using it.


I have been fabulously privileged to share our love for canoeing with the rest of the World. Rio was a huge inspiration; deeply disturbing; profoundly sad and proof in the value of teamwork. 

This blog series is dedicated to the memory of Stefan Henze.

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Stefan Henze


John Gregory - September 26, 2016


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