Sochi 2014 Wasn’t All About the Medals

That’s a wrap! The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia concluded Monday after 17 days of top winter sports performances. The host team of Russia placed first with 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals. Followed behind Norway and Canada, Team USA placed fourth at the winter games and took home an impressive 28 medals. While we all are a little melancholy the Winter Olympics are over, there were great (and not so great) moments other than the teams and athlete’s performances to look back on while we wait for Rio 2016 and Pyeong Chang 2018.

The frustrating, the odd and the unsanitary. Reporters took to social media as they piled into a town unknown to most of the world adjacent to the Black Sea. Despite the $51 billion invested into reconstructing this sleepy resort town, the city was simply not prepared. Some of the first tweets from media, athletes and spectators were criticizing the poor and strange living conditions.

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I see what you did there, Russia. Fisht Olympic Stadium was constructed for the sole purpose as being the location for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics. After nearly $600 million was invested into the structure, all eyes were on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics creative director Konstantin Ernst’s artistic creation to honor Russia as seen through the eyes of a little girl.

There were floating, colorful structures, choirs singing songs like Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and large Olympic mascots that are sure to haunt me in my dreams for years to come. There was also the Olympic ring fail when one of Ernt’s five LED snowflakes failed to transform. Russian state television decided to air an edited version of the Opening Ceremonies where the ring did open during a rehearsal, while NBC opted to air the live footage. Ernst took advantage of the opening ceremony mishap during the Closing Ceremony and left viewers with a good laugh. Well played.

Puppy love. There was a good chance if you were residing in Sochi during the Winter Olympics that you’d find a dog walking aside you during your commute or even see a canine spectating at an Olympic event. Social media and news stories put Russia under scrutiny after reportedly sending out officials to round up masses of stray dogs and euthanize the animals. Olympic organizers had been reported saying that only diseased dogs had been put down while the healthier ones have been “relocated.” Sochi visitors and Olympic athletes alike took to caring and adopting strays.

American freeskier silver medalist Gus Kensworthy was one of the first to publicize the issue. He delayed his flight home to the United States to fill out paperwork to transport a mother dog and her four puppies. American hockey player David Backes and his wife Kelly created an organization called Athletes for Animals while in Sochi to help rescue the dogs and transport them from Russia.

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Want to share a great moment that went viral during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics? Comment below or spark a conversation with me on Twitter @whatupTUT.

Be Smart About the Hashtags You Use

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are only days away and they have been causing a lot of buzz in the social media world. We now know which twitter accounts to follow to stay informed and entertained during the games, how dogecoins paid for the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team to participate in the games and how gay rights activists see insult and opportunity there.

The Olympic games have been tied to anti-gay laws in Russia. Over the last two weeks, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and other big advertisers are having to fend off gay rights activists who have stolen their Olympic promotions on social media, specifically on Twitter using hashtags. “Hashtag hijacking” is taking over a hashtag that a company is promoting and using it in ways that the original tweeter did not intend for it to be used. Hijacked hashtags often remain quiet, but there are cases in which a hashtag takes on a life of its own and spreads like wildfire.

The most recent case of hashtag hijacking involved McDonald’s on January 21 when the company introduced the hashtag, #CheersToSochi. The tweet read:



Activists who have been protesting a federal law in Russia against “homosexual propaganda” started using the hashtag for their own purposes.



Brands usually spend millions to promote their hashtags through various channels. The most successful implementations however, are from companies that have made sure to cover all their bases before taking the leap. Here are a few tips to help avoid the worst case scenario, and to keep your hashtag campaign on the right track.

1. Consider What Could Go Wrong

Don’t assume your campaign will bring out the best in humanity. Take some time to consider every single way the hashtag could be twisted into something inappropriate, critical or even damaging. It was probably not apparent to McDonalds that their hashtag would be taken over by LGBT protesters or that the hashtag could be used as sarcasm.

2. Stay Away from Controversial Topics

Politics and hashtags aren’t typically known for functioning peacefully alongside each other, yet they’re still being utilized on a somewhat frequent basis to encourage the public to voice its opinion. It’s best to stay away from those topics.

3. Be Realistic

Sometimes the general public sees a brand differently than the brand sees itself. It’s normal to have an optimistic point of view about your business, but this does not mean everyone shares the same feelings. Companies with an unstable reputation should tread lightly when using a hashtag campaign.

4. Avoid Asking Open Ended Questions

Open-ended questions leave room for contortion and misappropriation. If you eliminate this ambiguity in your campaign, the chance of your hashtag being hijacked drops dramatically.

Asking yourself if the potential ROI outweighs the risk can also help you decide if a hashtag campaign is right for your brand. What is the ultimate goal of the campaign, and is there a safer or more relevant alternative? Want to discuss other classic hashtag hijacks or have tips on how to avoid them? Let me know in the comments section below.