When we think back to Beijing 2008, social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter fuelled Games fever thanks in large part to the number of tweets that were sent back and forth over the Olympic fortnight. That was nothing in comparison to 2012. Last week’s opening ceremony alone triggered more tweets than the entire 2008 games – around 10 million – making this year’s Olympic Games the most social in history.
Gone are the days of huddling around the TV or tuning into national radio to catch highlights of Olympic events. Aside from regular TV broadcasts, the online social sphere is bursting with news, ramblings, ratings, pictures and titbits on all things games related, and it’s all available at the touch or click of a button. The unparalleled degree of social media interaction that has and will take place throughout the 2012 games – a.k.a. the socialympics – is a craze that the world of social media is definitely ready for.
In preparation for the huge amount of social traffic for the athletes and events, including the hype surrounding special guest appearances from Her Majesty the Queen, David Beckham, James Bond and Paul McCartney, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) created The Olympic Athletes’ Hub. Any time an athlete comments, tweets, tags, likes or shares photos, registered users will be able to tune in and share the experience with them. Not only has this created a happy stir among friends and followers, but athletes as well who are relishing the idea of sharing such a major life experience with the world on a social level.
“Social media connects the world in real time and fosters a constant conversation about sports, which is exactly what sports fans crave,” says CAA Sports head of endorsement Lowell Taub.
With the freedom to use social media platforms in virtually any way we like, it’s inevitable that Olympic musings and fan support will give way to spectator rants and Twitter scandals – in other words, negative social media. Only seven days into the 2012 Olympic Games and there have already been several Twitter faux pas that have gone viral, including the arrest of a hostile teen over offensive tweets directed at Olympic diver Tom Daley, and racist tweets that saw several would-be Olympians expelled from the 2012 games.
While the idea of freedom of speech is definitely liberating, this year’s Social Media Games are heavily armed with social media watchdogs, so always remember to be tweet-smart.