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Are you excited about the Commonwealth Games or do you feel like the hype has passed you by? The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games launched today, with athletes from across the UK in Australia to compete at the highest level of their sport. Given the successful Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, we decided to take a look at fan conversation about the Games, expecting to see high levels of anticipation and excitement for this global event.
What were people talking about? Are they interested in particular sports or the event in general? And how can brands interact with the conversation in a positive way?
We discovered a conversation driven by the athletes themselves and a feeling of genuine, accessible community around the Commonwealth Games. But we also found a perceived absence of official chat in the run-up to the Games. Could this provide a valuable opportunity for brands?

We used Brandwatch to search for conversation about the Commonwealth Games in the UK. As expected, the chart below shows that conversation steadily rises over the course of March, reaching a peak when data was closed on 3rd April.

The map above shows conversation occurring across the UK, with hotspots in major population centres. There is a real appetite for conversation about the Commonwealth Games throughout all the home nations.
Looking more closely at the content of the conversation showed lots of excitement among sports fans about the Games as a whole:

Very excited for the start of #GC2018 this week

Am spoilt this week – the Commonwealth Games starting Wednesday and #TheMasters starting Thursday!

Can’t wait for the #CommonwealthGames

However, a common audience complaint was the perceived lack of hype in advance of the event:

Commonwealth Games start in a couple of days….seems like it’s been forgotten or is it just me?

Crazy that the #GC2018 starts in 2 days’ time but there’s hardly any talk of it so far

Either I’ve had my head in the sand or else the noise about #CommonwealthGames starting in 2 days has been light

I mean I know the Commonwealth Games are taking place far far away in Australia but almost zero coverage on anticipation and only 2 days away

This suggests that there is not just an appetite for conversation about the Games, but also an appetite for official content.
Brands could fill this communications’ gap. They could seek to engage with the audience in the weeks running up to the event, to ramp up anticipation for it and provide fans who are already talking about it with more content to share and discuss. This would help the Games to reach a wider audience beyond really avid fans, creating greater reach both for both the brand and the event.

One of the questions we wanted to answer was where fans place their support: the Games in general or particular sports? We discovered that in fact fans are more likely to support their national teams (e.g. Team Scotland, Team England) and/or individual athletes within those teams.

The topic clouds below show conversational topics among individuals between March 23rd – April 3rd regarding Gold Coast 2018, by home nation:


Northern Ireland



It is clear that the content of the conversation varies greatly in each home nation, with stories appearing that are highly specific e.g. In Scotland, people were discussing the selection of Eilidh Doyle as flagbearer for Team Scotland, whereas in Wales the hashtag #WeAreRed was used in relation to Team Wales. This highlights the importance of these teams to the conversation. Brands attempting to interact with fans will need to develop a comms strategy that takes these differences into account, depending on the location of their target audience.


Image Credit: morzaszum via pixabay.com

The majority of conversation in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games was focused on the athletes themselves. The way that people talk about and to athletes suggests an approachable, supportive community, making the Commonwealth Games seem accessible for anyone. They may be elite athletes, but they are also real people, which makes this level of sport seem more attainable for everyone else.
The athletes themselves are approachable. Fans are able to wish them luck directly on Twitter or chat to them in response to their own content:

Good luck to @EilidhDoyle and the whole of @TeamScotland

Hey good luck out in Oz @GC2018 will be cheering for you

Athletes’ families and friends also posted on Twitter wishing them luck – they are real people with real relationships, just like everyone else:

Arrived @GC2018 to support my very good friend through her 4th major games

Words can’t describe how proud I am!

Community organisations get involved. Some post in support of athletes who attended those organisations e.g. schools or sports clubs:

We always knew you would get to these Commonwealth Games…we are very proud of you

Very proud of you! (re: a former pupil)

Firstly, this makes this level of athletic prowess seem more attainable e.g. for those who went to the same school or sports club. Secondly, This could increase local interest in the Commonwealth Games as people have a local connection to a global event.

To authentically engage with the Commonwealth Games audience brands could:
Support the community that already exists around the Games. This could include producing shareable content about the athletes, such as profiles or interviews. Brands could also provide events in local schools and grassroots clubs with athletes. This would further support the perception of the Commonwealth Games and as accessible to everyone by supporting the grassroots of the sports.
Match the language and tone of voice of the existing conversation e.g. describing athletes in an approachable way and avoiding language that puts them on a pedestal or makes them seem like an unattainable elite. Brands could also use language relating to community to support those athletes (e.g. “We are so proud”)
Diving deeper into the conversation provides some guidance as to the type of content brands could produce to fill the gap and create more hype around global events like the Commonwealth Games. This could both increase reach for the event and promote brand visibility.
This research was powered by Brandwatch.

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