Not all hashtags are created equal.
One of my favorite sayings is one of my own, probably stolen from somewhere: “the answer is always somewhere in the middle.”
Another saying that we’re twisting a little is one from Chuck D: “Don’t believe the hype.”
How do the twain come together, and support the premise that you shouldn’t believe the hashtag?
#NBCFail = $1 Billion
You read that right. After first projecting that they’d lose $200 Million on the London Olympics, NBC is now saying that they will break even on the games, bringing in ONE BILLION DOLLARS in advertising revenues.
Whether or not NBC’s Olympic coverage is a success or a failure depends entirely on a little word we’ll call “perspective.” Which brings us to “hashtags.”
For the uninitiated, the “hashtag” is the “pound sign” (“#”) that precedes a statement or saying that is shared on Twitter. When the Olympics started, corners of the internet started complaining that the events they wanted to see weren’t on live – since NBC’s main network was planning on showing the good stuff during prime time. Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte in an epic swimming duel? Mass appeal, according to NBC, so they’ll save that for prime time.
Dumb move, according to the interwebs – if you trust the “trending” hashtag of “#NBCFail.”
Except…well, NBC DIDN’T fail, if you look at little things called “objectives.” To posit a guess, here are a couple potential objectives:
- Show the good stuff during prime time, when we catch the casual viewer and pull in key demographics, like Moms with money
- Sell lots of advertising so that people who watch during prime time can connect with brands
- Make every single Olympic event available online so no one can complain if they have a cable package.
- Break even on the games.
NBC has gone 4-for-4
We’re living in the instant failure world – where brands get pilloried for not answering to the masses in real time. (Want more on the implications for all sorts of businesses? Read this post from Sidera Works. It’s darn good. Link: )
But I’ve got news for you: brands don’t answer to you, Mr. Consumer. They answer to the bottom line – and what’s in your best interest (“Seeing Michael Phelps Swim”) may not be in the best interest of their bottom-line, and the masses, and the time-space continuum. (London is 6 hours ahead of New York.)
Would I do things differently if I were head of NBC Sports? Sure – in a few cases. But, with ratings up and people able to consume all the NBC Olympics content from anywhere and everywhere…I have no major complaints.
Somewhere in the Middle…
When you’re setting your own marketing strategy, social media strategy, or communications strategy – the extremes aren’t where you want to be. NBC could have kowtowed very early on to the social media diatribes, decided to abandon their ship and cause all heck to break loose. They would have then made a bunch of Twitter people very happy, and they would have “won the Internet.”
They also would have angered the people – and there are lots of them (Ad Age reports that the ratings for these Olympics are the best for any held outside of the US since 1976) – who turn in every four years and want to watch the Gymnastics. Or the Swimming. Or the Track and Field.
Beware the Angry Mob
Angry Mobs like to mobilize online. They can do so quickly, they can be loud and boisterous.
But they don’t pay the rent.
NBC, on the other hand, had a group of advertisers to keep happy, and a formula that they have used quite a bit (the network has carried every Summer Olympics since 1988).
Listen to the feedback, sure, but stick to your knitting as long as you know your knitting is what works.