SBD/July 2, 2012/Media

Technological Advances: Social Media Becomes New Message For London Games

The London Games could be the “first Social Media Olympics,” and even the Olympic movement “has warily accepted the idea,” according to Eric Pfanner of the N.Y. TIMES. The use of social media in the four years since the ’08 Beijing Games “has surged.” Facebook has gone from “about 100 million active users to about 900 million, Twitter from six million to about 150 million.” Also, many more people “now have smartphones, so they can react immediately to something they have seen” at a sporting event. Pfanner wrote, “Clearly the London Games will be tweeted, tagged, liked, blogged, mashed and rehashed like no previous Olympics. All of this has created opportunities for the Olympic organizers, sponsors, participants and spectators.” Olympic organizers for the London Games have created an “Olympic Athletes’ Hub,” to help fans “find and follow competitors’ Twitter feeds and Facebook pages.” The IOC also has “its own Twitter account and Facebook page, as well as separate areas for the public and the news media.” Olympic sponsors are “perhaps even more active” than the athletes competing. IOC TOP sponsor P&G has “unleashed a far-ranging social media initiative, as part of a broader marketing campaign” called “Thank You, Mom.” While the campaign “began with a television advertisement, it quickly developed into a social media phenomenon.” P&G said that the video of the ad has been “watched 25 million times on YouTube and other online video sites.” All the sharing and connecting has also “created some new headaches.” There is “grumbling ... about the restrictions that the organizers of the Games have imposed on this most freewheeling of media formats.” Local Olympic organizing committees “always go to great lengths to protect sponsors” from ambush marketing “by companies that try to get free rides.” Sometimes, as “in the case of the London Games, special legislation is enacted.” The guidelines “include provisions for social media, detailing what marketers may and may not do.” Among the banned actions are “the use of certain word combinations in social media content: Nonsponsors have been warned not to try putting, say, ‘twenty-twelve’ and ‘gold’ in the same tweet” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/2).
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