Twitter is still sorting through the results of the London Olympics to gauge how individual advertisers fared in their campaigns, but a bird's eye view of all the activity on the platform backs up the feeling that a lot has changed since the prior games.
In the weeks leading up to the London games, for example, there were more Olympics-themed tweets posted in a single day than during the entire duration of the Beijing games. Users posted 9.66 million tweets about the Olympics during this year's opening ceremony, compared to just 500,000 during the opening ceremony for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. And roughly 150 million tweets related to the games were published during the games' 16 days, according to Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter's VP-global brand strategy, who will give a keynote on "real-time brands" at Ad Age 's Digital Conference in San Francisco next month.
Mr. Lunenfeld's mission at Twitter is to help brands tap into real-time conversations about cultural happenings like the Grammys or the Olympics -- whether they're official sponsors or not. Twitter ads were part of the mix for Olympics sponsors like McDonald's, Visa and Procter & Gamble, which tapped the platform for a Gillette campaign (#getstarted) around swimmer Ryan Lochte as well as its massive "Thank you, Mom" campaign. Some of the sentimental TV ads were distributed on Twitter, and the hashtag #raisinganolympian went viral.
"This was done with paid media, but what was more exciting was the organic conversation it began," said Mr. Lunenfeld.
Nonsponsors such as Nike and Mitsubishi, meanwhile, had to be particularly creative about sparking conversations around the Olympics, Mr. Lunenfeld said. (The word "Olympian," among others, was off-limits to them.) So Nike sought to grab attention early on by buying the promoted trend #findgreatness during the opening ceremony, urging users to tweet about how they find their own greatness, while Mitsubishi tweeted statistics about athletic feats in general with the hashtag #worldclassperformance.
Now Mr. Lunenfeld's brand-strategy team at Twitter is focused on the back-to-school season and beyond. "How can retailers make big events around Black Friday and Cyber Monday?" said Mr. Lunenfeld. "That's a lot of the work we're doing today as a team."
The group group was also responsible for the yearlong deal inked with Pepsi this spring that arranged for pop-up concerts by artists like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj to be announced on Twitter and then live-streamed on Twitter and on Pepsi.com.
In addition to Mr. Lunenfeld, speakers at Ad Age 's Digital Conference in San Francisco will include David Roman, Global CMO at Lenovo; Lesya Lysyj, CMO at Heineken; and Simon Talling-Smith, exec VP for the Americas at British Airways.