Over the past several decades, Canadians have been able to come behind individual athletes to watch them achieve greatness. Though unable to compete themselves, the loyalty and devotion shown to them as fans has been a driving force in the success known as “Team Canada”. Team Canada’s social media is an avid portrayal of their willingness to make sport accessible and to demonstrate that anyone is capable of achieving greatness if they only believe. From inspiring graphics that feature athletes young and old alike, to articles that showcase Canada’s triumphs on the playing field, Team Canada is able to perfectly capture what it means to be Canadian.
Due to the fact that Team Canada is nearly a cult phenomenon, they have a fairly large social media presence and therefore are able to gain a lot of traction with their posts and content sharing. The Team Canada Facebook page has 756,992 page likes, with post likes ranging from 24 to 50,000 depending on the content relevance. Twitter comes in with a close second at having 561 thousand followers, and Instagram with 84.5 thousand followers. Though not reaching over a million likes/followers on either page, Team Canada also maintains several other forums, such as the Paralympic pages, the Canadian Olympic Team Foundation, and individual sport pages (Cycling or Hockey to name a few). Surprisingly however, they are able to interact with their followers on nearly every platform; whether it’s by adding to the conversation, addressing concerns or simply stating another point. They seem to keep their commentary relatable and often times add inspiring messages to satisfy their fans. By using the “Join the Olympic Club” slogan, they are able to make the Olympic team exclusive yet also widely attainable for anyone who wishes to participate. By highlighting the word ‘Club’, Team Canada has ensured that their fan base will feel included and apart of the selection process for every Olympic Games. In some ways, they encourage you to pretend to be an Olympian without actually having to be one.
Though the message that they are sharing online is relevant to their content, the one noticeable issue with their three social media platforms is that the same content is shared across the board. Their Instagram and Twitter are fairly similar with an image and a link being shown for both; the same image and link is later shared in full on the Facebook page. By having the same content across three platforms poses the risk of losing a follower base for each one. If viewers see that the same content is being shared on all three platforms and they follow all three, they will most likely unfollow one or the other due to repetitive content – no one wants to see the same thing twice (or three times in this case). The upside to this however is that the content itself will get more views and more traction because it is being shared on multiple platforms; everyone has their chosen media source and therefore will prefer one over another. Instagram leverages graphics and images, such as one of their most recent campaigns, the 100 day countdown to Rio 2016. Everyday Team Canada showcases a moment in Olympic history achieved by a Canadian Athlete; they highlight up and coming Olympic athletes and give them an opportunity to say hello!
The use of these images on Instagram are clean and easy to understand, and basically begging to be shared and screenshotted for use on followers accounts. By having athletes as the mainstage of nearly all their posts, fans and young athletes alike can print out the images of their favourite athletes for inspiration. In some ways, this brings back a devoted follower base who rely on real time images of their favourite athletes to watch; the Team Canada page gets more hits and interaction if you have people returning for content based images and ideas. Take the #iceinourveins campaign for example; the use of new and veteran athletes has people returning to the site time after time to re-watch the magic of what enfolded in the Arctic. In fact, this video now has over 75,000 views on YouTube and thousands more across the platforms on which it has been shared.
The #iceinourveins campaign was an idea to demonstrate that Canadians no matter where we go, will take a piece of our northern pride with us. Even though we are travelling to Brazil, we will take the snow and ice with us to win Gold this summer. The video is a great portrayal of who we are as Canadians; individuals who can brave the cold to achieve their dreams however, it would have been interesting to see this version of what they did, shot down in Brazil. It could have been foreshadowing showing Team Canada arriving in a gust of cold air and swirling snow (embracing the stereotype) and emerging as victors in the hot summer sun. Instead of using the #iceinourveins by itself, you could introduce a second hashtag, #heatinourhearts – Team Canada is fired up for Gold!
Overall, Team Canada’s social media can be considered to be greatly successful. They help athletes find sponsors, motivation and help them realize their fan base. They do an excellent job of reaching out to their fan base and encouraging them to donate, connect and envision themselves as a part of the team; after all, the slogan “Join the Club” is used throughout every platform. Though the content that they share could be divided more equally between platforms, the message itself is for the fans and those fans seem to enjoy exactly what Team Canada is serving up.