Well, we knew it was coming — social media hitting the Olympics. We’ve seen everyone from Mashable to traditional media talking about the first Olympics since social media — sure MySpace and several other social networks existed during the Beijing games in 2004, but that was CHINA where access to social networks is difficult.
Like just about everything else in our modern lives, the effect of social media on the Olympics is obvious. The Brits even celebrated how social media affects our lives the digital era during the opening ceremonies. While social media is fun, possibly the biggest challenge to the Olympics comes in the form of changes wrought to traditional media.
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) instituted unprecedented rules governing use of social media by the athletes, coaches, officials, and other “accredited” individuals associated with the games. While the rules encourage the athletes to post personal comments and still photographs during the games, participants are not allowed to post comments about other athletes. They also aren’t allowed to use social media for business — no supporting their sponsors or selling their Olympic Tweets to businesses.
While I think this shows good sportsmanship to treat other athletes well, it does seem to violate the rights of individuals to speak their minds. Also, video and audio recordings are only allowed for private use and may not be uploaded to any files sharing or social network. I guess this protects NBCs huge investment as the broadcast outlet for the games.
Social Media and Business at the Olympics
While the IOC doesn’t allow athletes to sell on social media, the same isn’t true for businesses. And, you’ll see everyone taking advantage of the Olympics to promote their products. New commercials using athletes to promote products are cropping up all over. Of course, these commercials are integrated into the firms’ social media platforms.
We’re also seeing social networks — especially Facebook — promoted in lots of those commercials. I think Facebook is winning the battle of integrating social media with traditional media because it’s easy to remember. I mean, its easy to remember http://facebook.com/thankyoumom (which is P&G’s integration with the Olympics) than it is to remember https://plus.google.com/104865837206726587564/ (Google, you really need to understand how consumers and businesses use social media !)
Social Media and its impact on coverage of the Olympics
Sure, its fun to see Ryan Lochte pay homage to the Lochte nation for his gold medal performance or connect with our favorite athlete so we fell part of the action, but is social media having a bigger impact on coverage of the Olympic games?
Everyone is a reporter
With the rise of social media, we no longer need wait for TV coverage of the games of the 30th Olympiad. Especially with the time difference between London and the US, my Facebook newsfeed was full of commentary and criticism (mainly heaped on Paul McCartney) about the opening ceremony long before they aired in the US on Friday evening. While this may pique my interest in watching the official coverage of the opening ceremony, I was less thrilled to discover Michael Phelps lost the 400 M IM to Ryan Lochte in my newsfeed during the afternoon — somehow it’s just not that much fun to watch a race when you know the outcome.
Of course, more than 10 Facebook pages exist; some official, many unofficial; present coverage of the Olympics. And, a number of Facebook apps and games help fans keep up with all the action.
Maybe the most serious contribution of social media to the Olympics for me is the pervasiveness of “human interest” coverage on social networks. I’ve always enjoyed this aspect of the Olympics so much — hearing from the athletes and learning their stories. With social media, I find little tidbits about athletes, many shared by the athletes themselves, shared across Twitter and other networks. Now, I’m motivated to watch these athletes compete and I find myself concerned when they don’t win a medal — I care about them.
I’d love to hear from you. How does social media affect your viewing of the Olympics?