The social media Olympics

Social media content is helping shape the London games

Facebook may have been dominating the news of late with its IPO and the lukewarm response to it (at time of writing, shares in the social network are trading at US$31 each, down from the offering price of $38), but there is another multi-billion-dollar money-spinner about to dominate content across all media.

The Message has already examined how companies are gearing up for the London Olympics, but it is how the Olympics themselves � and the governing body, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) � are working to put on the �social media games� that shows the exponential growth of social media (and social media content) in the last four years.

In 2008, there were 140 million Facebook users and two million Twitter users. Today, there are about 900 million and 150 million respectively. Moreover, the likes of Pinterest, Instagram and Themultilife were but start-up twinkles in their entrepreneurs� eyes. Even Foursquare (which now claims 20 million regular users) was a year off being born when the Beijing Olympics took place.

But a recent announcement shows how far things have come. The IOC hopes the likes of Twitter and Facebook will give the massed ranks of social media users greater insights into the games and the Olympics themselves thanks to messages posted by athletes and others. (Which makes it a little ironic that social media-usage restrictions have been placed on Olympic volunteers in London.)

Nevertheless, the IOC is determined to use social media content to spread its message and has joined with Foursquare to encourage fans of the Olympics to �check in� at significant historic locations around the world. These include past, present and future stadiums and venues, from the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (scene of Ian Thorpe�s heroics in 2000) to Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (where the 2016 Olympic beach volleyball will take place).

�Our integration with Foursquare and the ability to leave location-based tips from the athletes is one more way to serve highly engaged fans of the Olympic Games and to integrate social media directly into the Olympic fan experience,� said Alex Huot, IOC Head of Social Media.

Get on your marks for the social media games�


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