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The Impact of Social Media on the London 2012 Olympics

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By the time this article comes out, the London 2012 Olympics would have officially gotten underway and millions would have flocked their televisions to enjoy the opening ceremony and the games themselves. When the 2008 Beijing Olympics took place, social media had not matured into the marketing platform it is today. Therefore, it is fair to state that this is the first Olympics that would happen in the middle of the social media frenzy. So how is this likely to affect or change the games as we know it? . . .

By the time this article comes out, the London 2012 Olympics would have officially gotten underway and millions would have flocked their televisions to enjoy the opening ceremony and the games themselves.

When the 2008 Beijing Olympics took place, social media had not matured into the marketing platform it is today. Therefore, it is fair to state that this is the first Olympics that would happen in the middle of the social media frenzy. So how is this likely to affect or change the games as we know it?

For starters, this is the biggest sporting event of the world with over 200 countries participants in almost 300 events, all within a period of two weeks. This is an unprecedented event – this single sporting event will touch the lives of almost every citizen on the planet. For the first time in the history of social media, an event is occurring which will affect all the 901 million Facebook users and 140 million active Twitter users. So how have the authorities of the Olympic Games preparing for the inevitable tweet, posts, and pins?

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has imposed a set of social media rules for the athletes participating in the games. This bans them from promoting non-official brands for a month via social media channels. This is because, when an athlete endorses a brand, it’s not just about TV commercials or billboards, they also endorse it via their personal social media accounts. For example, Usain Bolt, the sprinter, posted a picture of his refrigerator filled with Gatorade on this Twitter account (over 623,000 followers).

This is just one example of how social media affected athletic endorsements. For the first time the athletes themselves are tweeting and posting live from the Olympic stadium giving fans first hand and live accounts of how the Olympics is affecting and changing the lives of every Olympian.

The London event organisers are capitalising on this obvious marketing platform for the benefit of not just the games, but the city of London and United Kingdom as a whole.  The organisers have created a social media hub that allows Internet users to connect with the athletes. The famed London Eye has been transformed into a social media mood ring for the duration of the game. The “mood” will depend on UK-based Twitter sentiments during the games. During the 30 minute lighting show, every night the mood ring will glow yellow if the mood is positive, purple if unhappy and green if indifferent.

Thanks to social media, details of the opening ceremony have already been leaked online and athletes too are posting pictures of their first view of the Olympic Stadium.

This means there is added pressure on the organising committee to make sure the events run without a hitch. If the athletes are unhappy with the food, the facilities or even the water pressure in the showers, rest assured it will be tweeted about and the world will know.

The PR arm of the London games will be working overtime to ensure that every fan, media personnel, athlete and representative at the Olympic Games is well taken care of.

Countries too are being extra careful. Greece for example has expelled one of its Olympians over a racist tweet.

Brands for their part are capitalising on this huge marketing opportunity, with Olympic Games related apps. For example, General Electric has released a Facebook application that allows you to work out like an Olympian.

If you are a fan, you might be wondering how you can follow the games. NBC has created an Olympics Facebook Application and a Twitter tracker , while the IOC has launched an official YouTube Channel together with the Olympics Facebook page and Twitter handle (@Olympics).

If you are a business owner, social media is all about being timely, trending and using keywords. The Olympics are the perfect opportunity for your business to be a part of the global conversation. Use the games hashtags (#olympics, #london2012) generously in your tweets and posts. Retweet and post interesting games related information and facts. If there is a local Olympian, then support the athlete via your social media channels and rally the community. This will increase your visibility, the customer interaction and engagement. By giving to the community you will receive.

With all the hype about SoLoMo (Social.Local.Mobile) and companies becoming social enterprises, the Olympics Games 2012 is set be the world’s first social games. Fans are carrying social media enabled smart phones and tablets but so are the athletes, the media personnel and every citizen in London and the world. The London 2012 promises to be mark the dawn of the social media age. So let the games begin!

This article is a two part series. Stay tuned next week for Watching the Olympic Games the SoLoMo way!

About Logan Nathan

Social Media Business Consultant | Social.Local.Mobile Marketing-Strategist| Speaker | Trainer

Based in Sydney, Australia, Logan has been an avid & passionate social media user since the advent of Facebook.  As the Social Media Business Consultant with over 30 years’ experience in corporate, SME business, together with running his own organisation for the past seven years. Logan is focused on guiding organisations through the four stages of social media for business – Education, Strategy, Implementation and On-going Management. If your business needs expert assistance on creating a custom Social Media and Search Engine Optimisation Strategy, contact us via logan@logannathan.com. Logan is also an expert on LinkedIn and is running a series of workshops over the next few months. To Register: – http://www.ictsocialbusiness.com.au/social_media_education/social-media-training-workshop/Getting-leads-from-LinkedIn

Stay tuned for more developments from Logan’s company.