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Olympic proportions: Learning from the London Games


July 31, 2012

For the past few days and into August, there will be more than 3,000 hours of programming spanning 302 events for 32 Olympic sports.  There will be social hubs where fans can follow and interact with Olympians; mobile apps to view live events and customized video streams.

Like many traditions in modern times, the “Games of the XXX Olympiad” are embracing social media.

The Olympics might be the ultimate spectator sport. Given its storied history and the way that social media has matured since the 2008 Games, communicators can learn a great deal by observing and interacting on social networks. Professionals have evaluated social media surrounding one night of the Super Bowl or Oscars, but here we have more than two weeks of activity to study.

Take note

Facebook officials have noted that previous Olympics relied on networks selecting which events to broadcast.  This year, viewing potential will evolve from curated to comprehensive, with every event streaming online and social hubs like Facebook directing fans to specific events and channels. This access combined with  mobile technology will generate more Olympic content than previously possible — more breaking news, viral videos and stories about athletes.

As the Games continue to unfold, we’ll see how the social  Web’s infrastructure, etiquette and marketers behave in the global spotlight.

Here are several items that may help enhance your communications:

Media channelsNBC offers televised coverage in the United States and mobile apps for complete programming, ESPN mainly offers online coverage, and  journalists and bloggers will also cover the Games.

Watch how journalists prioritize stories and trends. Determine how you can create opportunities from similar patterns in your own market.

Social hubs — Facebook offers a Explore London 2012 page, and the International Olympics Committee links fans and athletes with the Olympic Athlete’s Hub.  Twitter has the @Olympics handle and it will be a real-time news source. And  YouTube, besides being a major video portal, will stream official event coverage to Asian and African countries. 

Watch for which social hubs people rely on most and which handle volume the best. Determine if your channels support specific goals or merely a me-too presence.

Big brandsCoca-Cola and  Visa are among the brands helping fans upload encouraging messages, photos and videos for athletes online. Samsung is asking bloggers to share.

Watch how brands generate social engagement and try to insert themselves into stories. Determine if integrated communications, real-time trend pitching, brand journalism and gamification can support your strategies.


I’m predicting that the Olympics will earn a theoretical gold medal for content ubiquity, and silver and bronze medals for social media collaboration and comprehensive programming.

Information overload remains a reality and how you manage it — whether you’re tracking global events or creating compelling content — will determine your success.

Ryan Zuk, APR Ryan Zuk, APR, is a media and analyst relations professional, Phoenix PRSA Chapter member and Sage North America representative. Zuk can be reached @ryanzuk on Twitter. He also blogs at criticalmasspr.com.
Email: ryanzuk at gmail dot com



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