Get ready for the Socialympics.
What? You're not familiar with the term? Marketers are using the portmanteau to coin the 2012 London Games. Twitter, Facbeook and YouTube were around for the Beijing and Vancouver Games, so what gives?
[E]very Olympics needs a story line, preferably a “first.” Thus, the Athens Games of 2004 took the Olympic movement back to its ancient home. The Beijing Games carried the torch to a large, previously untapped market. In Britain, a midsize country that has been host to the Games before and where people’s enthusiasm for the event appears to be lukewarm, there is a new narrative.
So is it all hodgepodge? It depends how you look at it. The upcoming games likely will be "the most social Olympics ever
" (or yet) as some headlines proclaim, thanks to streaming coverage by NBC. Chinese censorship likely restrained social media activity during the Beijing Olympics, and the Vancouver Games had less impact because Summer Games generally resonate more heavily with viewers.
Companies are pouring hundreds of millions into their social media strategies for the upcoming games. In fact, there's even a scoreboard to see which partners
are coming out on top, calculated by metrics measuring popularity, receptiveness, interaction, network reach and trust.
Yet as eager as the London Olympics is to call itself social, that label applies largely to the deep-pocketed sponsors who put up the money to associate their brands with the Games. Others don't have so much freedom to tweet as they please.
Non-sponsoring companies are banned from certain word combinations, such as "twenty-twelve" and "gold" in their tweets, among other restrictions. Athletes and spectators can't post videos to forums. They can blog and tweet but only do so in a "first-person, diary-type format and should not be in the role of a journalist," according to guidelines by the International Olympic Committee. “They must not report on competition or comment on the activities of other participants or accredited persons, or disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organization."
So far, two Australian swimmers have already been disciplined for posting pictures on Facebook — even before the Games started. The pair are banned from using social media during the Olympics and will be sent home immediately after their events.
While the Olympics tries to dub itself the Socialympics, it's trying hard to control the discussion to avoid stepping on sponsors or broadcasters' toes, which leads us to ask: Will it the most social Olympics ever?