The Summer Olympic Games have always been of huge importance to International Federations (IFs). Tokyo 2020 is no different.

It will provide a golden opportunity not only to reconnect with lifelong fans, but also to gain new ones from all over the world.

But with‎339 events (including 50 disciplines) in 33 sports vying for people’s attention,how can IFs cut through all the noise to reach existing as well as new audiences? 

Furthermore, with the varying and ever-evolving way people use social media and consume sports online, what should IFs do first? 

Our top tip? Understand your audiences. Take a look at three reasons why audience analysis will help IFs maximise Tokyo 2020. 

1. It shapes progressive strategies 

In order to attract new people to participate in and consume their sports, IFs must adapt their strategies to a changing society and to how, in the future, people will discover and consume content. (ASOIF Report, February 2019).

A key finding of ASOIF’s report on the Future of Global Sport stresses the importance of adapting strategies to stay relevant.  

Audience analysis isn’t a one-off activity. It must be continuous if you really want to understand the changing needs, interests and behaviours of your fans. 

IFs need to ask themselves the following questions: 

  • Does our current strategy really engage audiences? 
  • Does it cater to their demographic and behavioural differences? 
  • Are the social channels used at its heart the ones we KNOW are the most effective? 

The answers to these questions will help improve current strategies and give insight into the establishment of dynamic new ones in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020. 

2. It develops campaigns that people fall in love with

the biggest sin is [content] dullness.
(Ben Shaw, Head of BBH Live)

Armed with an understanding of existing and target audiences, and the content and language that motivates them, you are in a position to develop a Tokyo 2020 campaign: one that people care passionately about and can connect to on an emotional level. 

Emotionally charged events that create powerful and positive memories will lead to lifelong fan loyalty.  

Evidence from our  #SportOnSocial 2019  Report, which ranks the performance of Olympic IFs on social media, shows that IFs with an effective, emotive-led communications campaign (especially around major championships) experienced the biggest fan growth and engagement. 
FIBA, for example, generated over 1.9m video views on 16 November 2018 with its #ThisIsMyHouse content, produced and repurposed for participating nations of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. 

Similarly, FEI launched #BeOne in the build up to the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018. The campaign encouraged inclusion for athletes and fans alike, generating 28.8m impressions and 4.8m video views.

3. It measures success beyond the vanity metric 

When you really understand your audiences, you can set KPIs that go beyond ‘looking flashy on paper’ (e.g. likes, views, followers) and give context to future decision making. 

Whether it’s reaching a certain number of people in target countries, capturing first-party data, or lifetime fan value, your new KPIs willdemonstrate to the International Olympic Committee, Sponsors, National Federations and other Stakeholders the real impact of your Tokyo 2020 campaign. 

IFs have a responsibility to excite, inspire, and entertain their audiences. That’s it. If you are successful in this – and in gaining a genuine understanding of your audiences – your sport will grow.  

So how well do you really know your audiences? Remember, Tokyo 2020 is only 14 months away 

To learn more about our audience analysis work with IFs, contact me at