This year’s Winter Olympics has been heavily influenced by social media and this week’s column takes a look at some of the most memorable events that happened with help from fans (and sometimes athletes) collaborating together.
When something is awesomely good (or awesomely bad) the Internet and social users tend to rally around it. In this year’s Olympics, one of the items that fell into this category was the Pants of the Norwegian Curling Team.
People instantly gravitated to these magical pants and a Facebook fan page was born titled: “The Norwegian Olympic Curling Team’s Pants.” In a week and a half, this page exploded with over half a million fans and daily dialogue. This is a fun example that shows a group of Olympic fans can rally around even the most eclectic sport and have a good time joining together.
An inappropriate celebration
In case you were hiding under a snow pile during these Olympics, one of the big stories on the American medal front was what snowboarder Scotty Lago did with his Bronze medal. Pictures that were taken of him celebrating with a woman friend showed up on the Internet and spread across the blogosphere, becoming big Olympic news. Because the images went so viral on the web, Scotty was scolded by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and left the Olympic Village early.
Would this have happened a few Olympics back? Probably not. With social media, there really isn’t any stone that will go unturned, especially if that stone ends up in a fan’s mouth in a lewd act.
Real-time controversy, commentary from athletes
Of course you can’t mix sports and social media without a little bit of controversy right? Well, even coming into the games Olympians were unsure what they could and couldn’t say. It turns out that a few Olympians shouldn’t have said anything on social media at all. Skiers Lindsay Vonn and Julia Mancuso had a bit of a scuffle that arose from a (now deleted) tweet that Mancuso posted after her teammate fell ahead of her:
The post was later deleted but fired up quite a bit of controversy and Mancuso set the record straight on where else but her Facebook page. This is just another example of how broadcasting your message when under duress on social media is never a good idea.
NBC embraces social media
While many people are objecting to the way that NBC is showcasing the Olympics in traditional media, their social media efforts have been quite solid. NBC built an entire section titled “Tweets & Blogs” that really is a powerful hub for social media. In this hub, you could find features links to their official Facebook Page and Twitter account, as well as links to popular Olympic stories on Digg.
In addition to being socially active on these sites, NBC went out and created a few different formats for following Olympic stories on Twitter. One of the really interesting elements that NBC created is the ”Athlete Twitter Sheet” that allowed even the least tech-savvy users to easily see what the athletes were saying on Twitter. Users can sort by athlete or by sport and see the information right on NBCOlympics.com.
Another interesting feature is “Tweet Tracker” which allows users to see a visual representation of hot topics and even click on a current story to see the keywords that are being talked about:
Foursquare & New York Times team up
Many marketers have heard about the location-based social platform Foursquare, and during these Olympic games, The New York Times teamed up with Foursquare to provide location based updates around Vancouver.
While this didn’t get a great deal of publicity, this geo-graphic based event made Foursquare a perfect partner to collaborate with. This is a peek at how many location based social interactions will be occurring down the road. From being at events, to nightlife … there are a great deal of possibilities in which these interactions can be extremely beneficial to participants!
A glimpse of the future
While it is easy to get caught up in the hype of social network names like Twitter and Facebook, one of the most interesting social elements that I saw, came from NBC itself. New to this Winter Olympics, NBC created a “You Be The Judge” that allowed users to follow figure skating live and rate performances along with their colleagues. While this didn’t interact with the other platforms, this did give users the ability to participate with the sport online in real-time, then compare their scores with others:
Platforms like this could be the future of Social Media in the Olympics as users can participate alongside the Olympians and see real-time sentiments of fellow users. While the current version lacked some commenting features, or the ability to see other user’s scores, this will be the norm in the future. Not only will you be able to share your scores with friends, but also view sentiments by country, view scores from retired athletes, and much more.
Overall, the 2010 Winter Olympics might be most remembered as the first games that people collaborated with over social media, and there is only more and more integration that will be coming for the next event.