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London 2012 – The first Social media Olympic Games

2012 will be the year when social media becomes officially a naturally integrated element of a wider communications and marketing platform. Sports teams, athletes and event organisers have spent sufficient time exploring and experimenting with social media to know which platforms work best for them and what approach will engage and grow their respective fan bases. There will always be new tools, new apps and renewed focus on a particular area (it’s widely believed that 2012 will be a breakthrough year for mobile), but social media is no longer the shiny new toy that it has been for the last couple of years. The impact of social media on global sporting events has been witnessed already, from the 2010 Football World Cup to the Ashes to Formula One; social media is now a fundamental, unavoidable part of fan experience and engagement.

This year promises to be the first truly social Olympic Games. Television networks are planning to incorporate athletes’ Twitter posts into broadcast spots, and marketers are planning a flood of Facebook marketing tied to the Games. The IOC’s new social media guidelines lay out dos-and-don’ts for tweeting athletes.

During the London 2012 Summer Olympics, athletes will:
1. Have real-time text chats with fans from inside Olympic Village
2. Share their results and engage with fans
3. Grow their social media followings and much more

The last summer Olympics took place in 2008. Since then, a lot has changed. Not only are we a little older, but so is social media. For example, Facebook was relatively small in 2008 with 100 million users. This year, Facebook passed the 900 million user milestone. Likewise, Twitter had 6 million users in 2008; today the network is more than 20 times larger, at 140 million users.

There are a number of trends and challenges that come with social media for major events:
1. More data, more coverage -mobile apps, citizen reporters and blogs means those attending in person can access more information than ever before, and those who can’t be there can experience some of the same excitement.
2. Second screen viewing – watching broadcast television alongside a stream of social media comments and participation enhances the experience and can increase viewing figures.
3. Convening supporters – convening but not controlling fans and supporters who can contact each other as easily as the athlete they are supporting.
4. Mass participation and personal experience – big events are built from shared experiences as well as personal stories. More data, more coverage

With the 2012 London Summer Games being dubbed the “first Social Media Olympics” sponsorship, advertisement, and marketing have all taken on a new shape and meaning with the advent of social media. No longer restricted to print media, radio or television, social media networks have enabled corporations to advertise more effectively by following statistical queues embedded in social sites such as Facebook. This could potentially mean greater Return On Investments (ROI) with lower overall costs for potential corporate sponsors. More than that, social media provides a wide-reaching platform for corporations to build stronger brand loyalty with its consumers by aligning itself with the Olympics via social sites. Facebook “is where consumers are,” said Ralph Santana, chief marketing officer of Samsung. “If you can figure out how to build communities around your brand, it’s really powerful.” This idea has been championed by the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) with the integration of the Olympic Athlete’s Hub, where fans are given prize incentives such as a trip to the olympics to follow their favorite athletes and participate in the hub’s forum and activities, creating a more intimate atmosphere between spectators, athletes, and the corporate sponsors providing the incentives to drive the participation.

Jeebboo’s question this time was:
London 2012 will be the first `social media Games`. What do you think?

  • Athletes and fans interaction (26.28%)
  • Athletes and organizers interaction (14.96%)
  • Feedback between public and events (21.53%)
  • Totally unknown for me (37.23%)

Interestingly, more than one out of three voters answered that they don’t know anything about London 2012 being the first social media games. This fact certainly shows that LOCOG has not managed to spread the news as much as it would probably want to. Many people have not heard about the creation of the Olympic Athlete’s Hub and cannot express any opinion about it. Among the remaining 67% of Jeebboo members, the answers where mostly divided between the improvement of interaction between athletes and their fans and the quality of feedback between public and events. A smaller percentage believe social media will improve the communication between athletes and organizers.

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