This was the calling sent forth by Olympics committee head Jacques Rogge four years ago during the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. As the games draw nearer, we look forward to be being engulfed in Olympic spirit, unyielding national pride, and nail biting competition. Television completely redefined the Olympic experience for millions across the globe, bringing them visual stimulation beyond simple radio announcements. This year’s Olympics will propel the world into a new era of experience, the social experience.
The 2012 London games, already dubbed the “Socialympics,” sets the stage for Olympic fan interaction to reach new exciting heights. The Olympics committee has even coined phrases such as “Discover London 2012,” encouraging people to discover the stories, athletes associated with them, and the historical city of London during the Olympic games. Now, most of you are already thinking that social media existed during both the Bejing Olympics and winter games two years ago. Very true, but take a closer look and you’ll realize why these games are a first in many ways.
Historically, and still holding true today, the summer games are substantially more popular than its winter counterpart. The 2010 winter games drew an impressive 185 million viewers, but the 2008 summer games racked up a staggering 211 million viewers. Any importance that social media played throughout the 2010 games will only be amplified with the London games. Not to mention how many more countries participate in the summer games that exponentially increase attentiveness.
Next, we must turn our eyes towards the technology horizon and take a look at how much technology has transformed in the last four years. In 2008, Facebook could claim 100 million users worldwide, and Twitter only 6 million. Today, there are over 900 million people using Facebook and 150 million people on Twitter. Not to mention how many more people across the globe are now using smartphones in comparison to 2008. I wasn’t using one four years ago and now everyone I know uses one. Connectivity and interactivity will be a substantial part of the London games. Just look at the past couple years where organizational riots in England and collaborative revolution across the Middle East was amplified and initiated using social media. This social power will now be unleashed upon the greatest worldwide-shared event.
The most substantial argument for these being the first true social Olympics is the creation of the Olympic Athlete’s Hub, an entire site dedicated to connecting the world’s athletes participating in the games to fans, viewers, and followers through nothing other than social media. You can sign up, follow the athletes of your choosing and even participate in the Olympic community to earn rewards. It is rare to find a public figure/athlete without a social media profile in today’s world. Many athletes will also participate in live social conversations during the games such as live Twitter Q&A’s. Social media helps to make these national icons reachable and personable. Previously, Olympic athletes were only icons on T.V. and we only got to know them through interviews. Now, social media allows their personalities to shine through to the world and connect them on a personal level to all their supporters.
The other defining aspect of the “Socialympics” will be the marketing. Of course, being a marketer, this fascinates me so I wanted to explore it a bit. Marketers already know the power social media brings to a brand. It will be interesting to see how they leverage and incorporate those personal brand messages into the Olympic games through social media. I’m sure most of you have already run across Proctor & Gamble’s Olympic Mom ads in the past few weeks, this is a prime example. They have put together a campaign celebrating the moms of Olympic athletes for everything they have sacrificed and provided for their kids while pursuing Olympic dreams. P&G even has a website allowing visitors to send your mom a Thank You to let her know how much you appreciate her. They found a unique way to celebrate and promote to their target market in connection with the Olympics. This should be an interesting month for marketers!
So there you have it! The first true social Olympics officially kicks off on Friday, July 27th, although, the social media interaction has already begun. Olympic athletes are already accumulating droves of followers worldwide, all leading up to most anticipated social media event since people started throwing those words like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube around seriously. I want to know if you guys are excited about the Socialympics and in which ways! Which athletes do you already follow? Which will you plan on following? Do you think the Olympic hub is a good idea or do you think it can be approved upon?
Sources Neilsen Wire & Wikipedia