Why Rio inspired Air Canada to get more social

The national carrier is building engagement around the Olympics through an enhanced Twitter strategy, including a custom emoji.

Air Canada is building up its stack of first-to-market wins through a long-term partnership with Twitter, which has the airline branding a custom emoji (see right) and staying on top of Canada-focused conversation around the Rio Olympics.

As part of its broader #FlyTheFlag platform, the airline is brand-building around key moments from the Games, calling attention to its red-and-white maple leaf identity when Canadian athletes perform feats of greatness.

With six medals to the Team Canada tally at this point, the airline’s social promotion team is working closely with its media agency Mindshare and the Twitter team to curate a Moments thread that best captures national interest around the sporting event.

John Xydous, manager, social media and content strategy at Air Canada said the #FlyTheFlag execution on Twitter is an example of the kind of real-time adaptive marketing the company is doing on other social networks as well. The specific opportunity on Twitter allows the brand to “own a really relevant moment, leverage fresh ads, add value to the target audience, and rather than just pushing the message, [it allows for] curating it through the moment.”

The curation bit is handled by a Mindshare team, which includes Brooke Robinson, director, paid social and Ema Haracic, associate director on the Air Canada planning team.

Although the Games started off on a less-than-spectacular note with fewer TV viewers tuning in to see the opening ceremony on CBC, the numbers have been picking up as the games progress. But engagement on social has been strong, according to the Mindshare team, giving a platform like Twitter the opportunity to increase its value to brands.

“People are getting snippets of content,” said Robinson referring to the shareable, snackable content from live events that is being shared on social. Those snippets are being shared widely on Twitter, she said, giving the team an opportunity to inject the brand’s name around those CBC videos. (Mindshare has a partnership in place with CBC as well).

Which is why Haracic is in the control room, following the sporting event across screens and picking up key moments to highlight (good thing there’s only a one hour time difference this Olympics).¬†

Some of the moments she’s picked up apart from medal wins include Canada’s first ever rugby qualifying win and the womens’ soccer team’s historic win over Germany. “Those are real-time moments and they trend for a couple of hours. We react actively to those moments and join the conversation.”

It’s too early to measure the campaign’s results but Robinson said – given the importance and opportunity offered by the Olympics – engagement levels are higher than the normal benchmark. The company is developing a custom audience pool based on the results and will store that list for retargeting opportunities as the overall campaign continues into the fall and winter seasons.

Laszlo Molnar, account manager, Twitter Canada, says the company’s research team is also working on a sentiment analysis to gauge, more deeply, the impact of the campaign on brand value.