When the Olympics can’t use good English

Estimated reading time: 4 min

I love the Olympics – it’s been my “thing” since Sydney and I have travelled to watch most of the Games since that time.

And I follow a lot of sport on social media as well – so when I saw Paris 2024 had a Twitter account, I started to follow them too. It’s two years out from the Games now and I love the gradual build up of excitement, plus the news about how the preparations are going.

But Paris 2024 has got really irritating.

Tweeting to your audience

I do know that you should speak to your audience where they are hanging out. And so Twitter is a good choice for Olympic fans like me.

For an international sporting event, held in France, I’m going to guess that English will probably be the second most used language for fans – possibly the first if a lot of folks travel from outside France to watch. And so why, oh why does @Paris2024 not have a native English speaker on their team to do the translations?

In following their tweets they were mostly in French – I speak passable schoolgirl French and so could understand much of what was being said. But then English language tweets started coming out on the account. When one announced a “club” where I could register for advanced ticket information, I was quick to act.

The experience fell flat.

Customer transparency

Naturally I clicked through to register for the Club – but the landing page was beautifully designed (love the font) but lacking in two aspects of English communication

  • The “anticipatory” introduction text above the registration form was poorly written
  • The privacy opt in notices were unclear

Being a bit keen, I rewrote the introduction text and tweeted it back to @Paris2024 to illustrate how it could be improved. They blocked me. FFS that’s just childish and frankly, from a super fan like me, going to really put my back up.

I’ve reproduced the tweets lower down just so you can see whether I did a good job of improving the copy.

Secondly the privacy notices which are probably ore important from a marketing communications point of view were unclear.

I signed up for the “club” and so hope to get information about buying tickets. But what do all these acronyms mean? What if I do not tick either box? Will I get any emails about how to buy tickets? What marketing messages am I missing if I don’t check the box? And who are these partner organisations?

If I’d been copywriting this page I would have written out the names of the organisations in full IOC – International Olympic Committee –  and used similar language in both check box messages so it’s clearer to the user what they get or do not get when selecting each one.  I am guessing the second statement is for the Paralympics. Can you see the inconsistency in messaging?

Paris Olympics, fan communications,

Ambiguous email opt in statement from Olympics Paris 2024

Sport Fan Engagement Strategies

Sports fans are a committed bunch – it takes a lot to put us off your brand. And engagement with fans makes community building in public spaces a great way to sell tickets.

Paris 2024 missed a trick here.

If I was in charge of social media for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games I would do 3 things

  1. Build a fans list on each social media platform and seek to get email engagement with them too.
  2. Segment the list by country, sports of interest and start newsletter messaging for them
  3. Create separate profiles for different languages – Spanish, English, German, French for starters…. It can be confusing to get multi-language updates on one profile.

And they should also get some hashtags going… and when tweeting about Rowing in Great Britain, tag the team (@BritishRowing), write in English as well as French, and choose a photo to illustrate the tweet which actually has a British athlete in it.

Paris 2024, Olympics,

The first tweet announcing the club for receiving email updates 

Paris 2024 Olympics, Poor copywriting,

Others agreed that the English could be improved 

Copywriting, Paris 2024

My improved copy for Paris 2024 landing page 

Paris 2024 blocked tweet

And I got blocked for my troubles. 

British Rowing, Paris 2024, Twitter best practice

I love rowing and this thread about the history ended with a photo which didn’t include any British athletes. Nor did they tag @BritishRowing

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