The Social Media Olympics
Today, the Olympic Games kick off across the water and after many years of planning the world’s attention will be firmly focused on London as the world’s biggest sports competition gets underway.
London is being considered a ‘home games’. With no issues around whether or not the athletes will acclimatize to the conditions; and thousands of family, friends and fans expected to travel to London to support our athletes, expectations are high.
To date, Ireland has won 23 medals at Olympics Games, eight of which were gold. In London, Ireland will be represented by 65 athletes. They will compete across 14 sports including athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, gymnastics, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming and triathlon.
In Beijing in 2008, we had 54 athletes who took part in 12 sports. We won three boxing medals, one silver and two bronze, and were positioned joint 61st in the medal tables alongside Austria and Serbia. Looking to London, investment bank Goldman Sachs (who have applied the techniques of picking investment winners to a study of the Olympics), has stated that Ireland will win one gold medal, and four medals in total, finishing in
46th place in the medals table.
While our expectations are high, I think it’s fair to say that Katie Taylor is our most exciting medal prospect of these Games. It will be the first time women have boxed in the Olympics and Katie has emerged as a real contender. At only 26 years of age, she is a fantastic ambassador for Ireland, women in sport, and boxing.
Looking at this year’s Team Ireland, RTE’s Niall Flynn believes the top ten to watch are Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes and John Joe Nevin in Boxing, Robert Heffernan and Olive Loughnane in the Race Walk, Peter O’Leary & David Burrows and Annalise Murphy in Sailing, Eoin Rheinisch in Canoeing, Billy Twomey in Show Jumping and Aileen Morrisson in Triathlon.
Keeping up-to-date with our various athletes throughout the Olympics will not only be easier due to the fact that there are no time zone issues, but thanks to developments in technology. RTE is carrying up to 14 hours of Olympic Games coverage every day. Also, if you have UPC’s new On Demand service you don’t even have to worry about what time the RTE coverage is on you can just pick what highlights you want to watch and watch them whenever suits (disclaimer – UPC is a client).
For the social media junkies, London will be the first ever social media Summer Olympics. If you think back to 2008, when the Olympics took place in Beijing, Twitter was relatively new on the scene, with only 300,000 tweets being sent per day. Today the situation is very different, with 340 million tweets sent per day.
Over the next two weeks, the Olympic Games will be liked, tweeted, pinned and shared by millions worldwide as athletes, fans and organisations interact online. While social media offers huge potential in the overall promotion of the Olympics, it also poses some headaches for event organisers. For example, think of the potential for comment online when you look at the statistics about the London Games–
- 26 Olympic sports
- 34 venues
- 17 days of competition
- 10,500 Olympic athletes
- 205 National Olympic Committees
- 20,000 media and broadcasters
- Eight million tickets
When it comes to the world of advertising, there is an online sponsorship battle around the Olympic Games as pressure builds for athletes to endorse brands with tweets and photos of various products to their Twitter followers. Indeed some brand associations have led to athletes getting in trouble with sponsors, and more recently with the IOC, for promoting non-official brands. Strict rules have now been implemented by the IOC covering the period of the Games and many countries have also imposed a social media ban on their athletes.
Organisers in London have also been very clever, seeking to use Twitter to their advantage. When details of the opening ceremony began to leak out earlier in the month, organisers had the idea of bringing in the demographic most likely to be unable to keep details quiet and make keeping it a secret a matter of national pride. The #savethesurprise hashtag was created and displayed on screens throughout the rehearsal. While some details have leaked out, it was a novel way of using social media to encourage people not to tell others, as opposed to attempts to ban it.
Despite this restrictions, as communication professionals (and self-confessed social media junkies), the role Twitter will play throughout this Olympic Games will be fascinating to watch.