Tom Cleeland

LOCOG & Cadbury Strike Social Media Gold at the London Olympics

Last week we suggested a top pick for Social Media Week London: a talk by Alex Balfour of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). We weren’t disappointed. Alex shared with us some impressive statistics and insights learned during LOCOG’s digital adventure during the Games, so we wanted to share them with you, along with a very interesting case study on Cadbury’s social media efforts during the Games.

150 Million Tweets

Alex Balfour, the man in charge of all the digital and social programs for the 2012 London Olympic Games, got up onstage and shared some astounding insights, facts and figures.  

  • 627,000 Facebook check-ins
  • 5.3 million email address in the database
  • 4.73 BILLION page views with 431 million visits to
  • Mobile accounted for 60% of all interaction


Facts aside, Alex had some interesting insights to pull from LOCOG’s experience.

  • Location-based services actually didn’t play a big role in the Games.
  • Against their better judgement, they chose not to respond to users on social platforms, as there were simply too many to tackle.
  • A major constraint on sharing during the Games was not being able to share video content, because of strict broadcasting rights.
  • Email was actually their biggest channel; there were 5 million subscribers and 83 million emails sent during the Games, 15 million of which were opened.
  • Cadbury were the one 2012 sponsors that really stuck their neck out and delivered on digital for the Games. 

For more interesting digital statistics from the Olympics, head over to the BBC Internet Blog where they provide an in depth look at online viewership. 

Cadbury’s Olympic Social Engagement Strategy

When we heard Alex talk about Cadbury’s involvement in the Games, our ears pricked up. We love a good social-media win when a brand is involved. So much so that we got in touch with Cadbury’s social media & community manager, Jerry Daykin, ourselves to unearth a little more about their Olympics, which started long before the opening ceremony.

‘We ran campaigns connected with our London 2012 sponsorship from over two years out,’ Jerry told us, ‘and saw huge levels of engagement throughout, but it was possibly only during the opening ceremony where it felt like the whole nation really clicked and got caught up in the excitement of the Games.’

It’s no surprise that interaction stepped up a gear as the Games took place, but what is most impressive is how Cadbury handled their channels. In fact, they capitalised on their interaction to make the Olympics an experience to remember.

‘From that point on our sponsorship allowed us to be fully involved in a conversation everyone wanted to be having rather than watch from the sidelines.’

Cadbury used traditional media alongside their digital and social activity, but engagement was delivered mainly through social channels during both the Olympic and Paralympic games ‘where we could be responding within minutes of relevant events happening or news breaking.’

For Cadbury, sponsorship of the Olympics was ‘always about giving people all over the country a chance to be involved in the Games in some way’, and social media allowed them to do just that, both at scale and on a direct, personal level.

Managing Cadbury’s social presence throughout the Games was an involved and full-time job, as Jerry recalled, ‘On one memorable day, I spent 14 hours walking around the Olympic Park taking photographs of things our fans wanted to see more of.’

Now, that’s commitment. He also gave us some impressive facts on Cadbury’s activity:

  • 20,000 people used near field communication-enabled cards to share photos from our Cadbury House site in Hyde Park (featured in the top left image), creating 7 million impressions on Facebook.
  • 15 million unique people saw Cadbury UK Facebook posts during the Olympic fortnight.
  • During the Paralympics. there were 60,000 tweets containing the #CadburyHeroes tag, increasing @CadburyUK followers by 100,000 and creating 70 million opportunities to see content.
  • In total, Cadbury generated 3.3 million followers on new social channels through the sponsorship.


The London 2012 Olympics is arguably the best example of inspiring change brought about through collaboration to occur in recent years. Both LOCOG and Cadbury have brought people together and created an overwhelming community of engaged and excited fans across countless networks and enforced the importance of managing your social networks effectively.

Check out the Olympics event, and other archived live streams from the #SMWLDN events, at

Did you engage with any Olympic sponsors via social media during the games? Let us know. 

Image via Cadbury