I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this way, but one evening every four years is just about the right amount of time for watching bobsledding. Don’t get me wrong – the athletes all look very competitive, and their skills are astonishing. It’s just that when you’re sitting at home watching the event on TV, after a few runs down the chute, it’s not quite as dramatic as watching T. J. Oshie in a hockey shootout. This year though, I actually found bobsledding more interesting than usual. For example, who knew that in Russia, Alexandr Zoubkov – the gold medal winning bobsledder – is a national hero?! Or that in the 1928 Olympics, there was actually a 5-man bobsled competition?
However, it is the start of each bobsled race that I find most interesting. A difference of a few split seconds at the beginning of the run seems to determine the outcome of the race, as long as they manage to steer relatively straight the rest of the way down the 1,365-meter track at the Sanki Sliding Center. It is that starting line momentum which turns out to be absolutely critical. This is why most bobsledders are built like NFL running backs – everything hinges on that initial acceleration.
For marketers, momentum is a concept that is keenly appreciated, but difficult to plan for. In the digital space, where there is almost no friction in terms of access or sharing, the dynamics of momentum become even more pronounced since content, shares, views, and adoption can all start racing downhill very quickly – for good or bad. Not only do individual pieces of content take on varying amounts of momentum, but entire platforms can gain or lose momentum on a global scale. In fact, research from GlobalWebIndex has found year-over-year growth in some of the social platforms can often exceed 50% among certain age groups! While many brands have finally begun to integrate Facebook and YouTube into the core of their marketing strategies, it’s the global momentum of Twitter, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn that should have their full attention moving forward.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, and by then, I will once again be ready for the bobsledding events! The course will undoubtedly be different, but that initial momentum will still be the key to winning races. In the social media space, it’s almost impossible to imagine what platforms will be available in 2018 – but there, too, it’s a safe bet to assume that momentum will matter more than ever! It’s time to start training!