Getting to Know the Competitors

16 Jun

Social media tools are making it easier and more efficient for Olympic athletes to share their stories. Although a few of the “favorites” are selected each year to have their story broadcast on television, social media is allowing that opportunity to more athletes than fans had access to in the past.

Social media is changing the way we receive information about competitors of the Olympic Games. This is exemplified perfectly by Canada’s effort to engage fans with athlete’s by putting Twitter handles on the bibs worn during the Olympic trials. (See the story here.) Since most Olympic athletes handle their own public relations (especially those in less popular sports), having easy access to their Twitter handles is a great tactic for communication with fans.

Twitter isn’t the only way fans will be hearing about athlete stories this summer either. An article posted on Mashable discussed how BumeBox will be integrating multiple platforms to allow fans to not only tweet competitors, but watch web based videos about their journeys. The article reads, “The webisodes are designed to help fans get to know the athletes they’ll probably be watching at this summer’s Olympics in London to learn more about their backstories, their journeys to the doorstep of sport’s highest stage and how they train.” Emotional appeals are something public relations professionals use to garner support and interest for their clients, and now those appeals can be created though a wider variety of media outlets.

This Olympics will host, in my opinion, the greatest ability for information exchange of any Games to date. The possibilities for fan involvement are almost limitless, and there is a “race” to see what combination of platforms will provide the best insight. As a tool, social media is creating opportunities previously only imagined. Let’s just hope that with so many different avenues, athlete’s aren’t overwhelmed by online expectations.

With the fracturing of media audiences, and endless information channels, it may become difficult for athletes to “keep up” with fan expectations. Even athletes with professional publicists may find themselves lost in this year’s engaged online community. It will be interesting to see if any athletes choose to “unplug” in order to keep their focus.

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