The Olympic Games may be a stellar gathering of accomplished athletes from around the world, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also has to think like a business. And for the first time, the Games are taking a cue from many other global businesses and embracing social media.
The Beijing Olympics in 2008 had no official social media strategy and the Vancouver Games made tiny forays. But the London Olympics will be the first to make full use of social media.
The London 2012 Olympics has hired a social media team, and set up official Twitter, Facebook, , Instagram (@Olympics) and foursquare accounts. In addition, the IOC is building an to connect worldwide fans to the hundreds of social networking streams of athletes and events on Twitter and Facebook.
Many wondered how the IOC was going to handle the other issue regarding social media: fans sharing photos and videos. According to Anthony Edgar, head of media operations for the IOC, spectators will not be penalized for sharing media and they can take pictures of athletes and events and post them through social media platforms. Video, however, should not be posted online but can be shared with family and friends.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams said, ”Auntie Mabel in Norwich is not going to get a knock on the door at midnight and told to take something down. The main reason we do this is to stop companies (from) making money out of the Olympics who don”t put any money back into the sport.”
Athletes, on the other hand, face substantial social media restrictions and have to be very careful not to exploit their existing commercial contracts through the Olympics.
How much control will the IOC ultimately have? It will be interesting to see how this plays out, since much of the Olympics’ revenue is dependent on the billion-dollar deals with television/radio networks and other companies that have paid to be official sponsors.
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