London 2012 – The Social Olympics

In Social Media & Online PR, The Digital Marketing Blog by JoLeave a Comment

The Social Olympics

So we are well into the second amazing week of the Olympics and it is apparent that London 2012 is living up to its claim as the first social Olympics. This month, London will have played host to 10,500 athletes and 11 million visitors and for the first time we have seen the action played out not just on our TVs but also across social platforms.

The official line, from Alex Huot, the IOC’s head of social media is that, “The London 2012 Olympics will be truly social and fun. We are at a dawn of a new age of sharing and connecting, and London 2012 will ignite the first conversational games between athletes and fans.”

Just four short years ago when Beijing hosted the Olympics, Twitter was still in its infancy and had just 6million users whilst Facebook had 140 million. To put that in perspective, Twitter now has more than 140 million and Facebook has reached over 900million!

iProspect’s new infographic takes a look at the explosive growth in mobile and social over the past four years – from Beijing to London.

The Olympians’ personal story lines are also playing a central role in the unfolding events and it was candid tweets from the athletes that gave us our first glimpses of the Olympic village and life as a London 2012 athlete.

There has also already been some controversy around the London 2012 social media policy and the restrictions on what the athletes can and can’t Tweet due to the strict corporate sponsorship rules. Dawn Harper a US athlete is one of many to Tweet an image of herself with tape over her mouth and the words ‘’Rule 40” in attack of these stringent guidelines.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has countered criticism of its social media guidelines by creating a host of accounts specifically for the London 2012 games that have allowed the public to directly engage with the athletes and stay up to date on news from within the village. Both ‘The Athletes Hub’ , a collection of all Facebook and twitter updates from past and present athletes, and ‘Inside the Village’ – a place where fans can enter live Q+A’s with athletes, are already available.
Despite this, they were further marred by criticism when the cycling coverage was disrupted by an apparently prolific use of Twitter which caused a series of technical glitches.

It was the opening ceremony however that gave us our first taste of the power of social media with the Olympics mentioned by more than 10 million during Friday’s ceremony. Twitter was the most popular social network for talking about the Olympic Opening Ceremony, with 97 per cent of all mentions happening on the microblogging site.

A recent study from iProspect, discovered that 60 per cent of all social media interactions about the opening ceremony were positive. Surprisingly, it was Rowan Atkinson’s appearance in the opening ceremony and not the Queen’s that was the most tweeted topic during the event.

Even before the Opening Ceremony began, Twitter said it was experiencing more Olympics-related tweets that day than it had in a single day of the Beijing Games in 2008.

Danny Boyle also managed to achieve what celebrities and the press have found impossible and silence the attendees of the dress rehearsal (for which I’m proud to say I was at!) In a show that not only prompted social media use but incorporated it, he created a hashtag that appeared on screens around the stadium, reading #SavetheSurprise.

Unbelievably apart from a couple of YouTube videos that were later removed the open ceremony remained for the most part under wraps with #savethesurprise trending and the positive feedback flying about on Twitter.

With just a few days left to go and the grand finale of the closing ceremony to follow it will be interesting to see what the final verdict on the social Olympics turns out to be and who the winners and losers have been in terms of coverage, sentiment and for the sponsors to assign value from their huge investment.

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