23 Jun

An article posted on the BloombergBusinessweek website, “London Games to be first social media Olympics“, brings up some interesting points regarding the upcoming Games. With athletes and fans being more connected than ever, there are both concerns and new opportunities.

The article states, “at the last Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008, Twitter had about 6 million users and Facebook 100 million. Today, the figure is 140 million for Twitter and 900 million for Facebook.” It talks about expected traffic for social media servers, the ability for fans to upload live video from events, and also speaks to athlete-fan engagement. Olympic administrators have said that they will not police fan or athlete social media, but do offer some advice to those participating in online activities during the games.

Since one of things that draws people to the Olympic games, as I’ve discussed before, is the relatability of athletes and their stories to fans, administrators are encouraging relaxed lingo and emoticons. They suggest the uses of smiley faces and “LOL” so fans are less intimidated by the celebrity status of athletes. I think this is great promotion, and that they have valid points, but you also want to make sure the athletes don’t lose their honesty and authenticity. If they have never used “LOL” or emoticons, why should they start now? Although the suggestions set forth are with good intention, I think athletes need to be careful of becoming “fake”.

One thing I think Olympic organizers have considered wisely is that athletes cannot use social media for commercial purposes. Probably to the chagrin of most sponsors who were hoping to penetrate the market during these games, the rules are set for good reason. Without those guidelines, fans and athletes could potentially monetize content that should be reserved for the Games and it’s partners, and also prevents a flood of advertisements in what is already expected to be a high usage event for online servers.

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