We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the right ways to run a social media campaign. After all, social media is one of the key ways that you can build your business. When done right, social media also comes at the low, low price of free and that’s huge for small businesses.

However, in all the time we spend expounding on the ways social media can be beneficial to businesses, it’s tough to truly explain. Unless you have an example. That’s why I was really excited to read an article recently published on Forbes.com. The article is called NBC Sports Turns Data Into Social Marketing Gold.

What they did

It’s a solid read if you have a minute or two, but if you like how I explain things better (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), I’ll sum it up below. The entire article centers around the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. Instead of using social media to tell viewers to watch the games, which is what you would expect from a television network. NBC Sports took an entirely different and interactive approach.

Prior to the games, it created promotions that centered around deep, meaningful stories. The feature pieces concentrated on athletes with vibrant backgrounds. Some of these athletes were overcoming great odds to compete for an Olympic gold medal. These promotions created heroes that you wanted to root for. Think about it like Cool Runnings. Cool Runnings was the1993 movie loosely based on the true story of Jamaica’s first bobsled team.

How to work this for your business

When you’re thinking about a big event that you want to publicize, think about how you can tell a story. Find a story that the public can relate to. Maybe it’s a long-time employee or a vision that one of the company founders had as a young entrepreneur that’s finally coming to fruition. Tell that story and make people wonder what happens next.

How they worked social media

The other thing the social media team at NBC Sports did was look at the platforms they were engaging on closely. We’ve talked a lot here on this blog about how Facebook users are different than Instagram users who are different than Twitter users. NBC Sports really looked at that and took it to heart.

The company used Facebook to tell more in-depth and colorful stories. It could use 100–200 words because people on Facebook are willing to take longer to read posts of that length. By the same token, Instagram is used by a much younger demographic, so NBC Sports used pop culture references and captivating images to capture that audience’s attention.

Using ads and data wisely

Once these ads featuring the meaningful stories of some of the big athletes of the Olympic Games ran, NBC Sports used the data that it gathered from user engagement and chatter on social media to determine what hit home with viewers and what missed the mark.

It’s yet another instance where using data is the best way to make sure that you’re not only reaching your target audience but also connecting with him or her. When you analyze your data correctly, you can not only see how many people are engaging with your content but also what characteristics they share such as geographical location or household income or family size.

They saved the best for last

But what NBC Sports did really well is what happened during the actual games. Instead of reminding people to watch, the company asked people how they felt. There was a huge emphasis on user engagement and that’s what really brought things home for the company. There were polls and comments and actual interactions between viewers through all of the social media platforms. It was that social media engagement that really benefited NBC Sports the most.

So as you’re planning your social media campaigns, think about stories that are going to interest your customers the most. Find ways to engage with your customers on another level. When you create a forum that makes people feel good, they come back again and again.

Written by Erika Towne