Social media diary 16/1/2009 - London 2012

Official Logo of the 2012 Olympic Games

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London announces social media strategy for 2012 Olympic Games

This week came the first announcements of the social media strategy that will accompany London's 2012 Olympic Games. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will work with the sponsors of the Games to launch a social media campaign in the run-up to the games in three years time as part of it's campaign to get younger people to get involved in both the Games and sport more generally.

They are currently negotiating the involvement of the various official sponsors, and Adidas will be the first to launch a project as part of the campaign. Their involvement will include what is called an "online sports activation project", a set of online social media activities, and presence in social networks, that will sit alongside a campaign offering free gyms to London schools and communities.

According to Alex Balfour, head of new media at LOCOG:

"The main driver for it will be around social values. It will be focused less on the people who are already active in sport or aspire to be lead sports people and more on those who have some interest but don't see the social rewards in it."

So what can we learn from this?

The announcements to date seem to be focusing on ways to engage younger audiences, through online communities and social networks. They appear to be building social media elements into their broader projects to encourage mass participation in sport and hope that this will help their drive to get young people involved.

This is undoubtedly a laudable effort. It is great to use the focus that the Olympic games provide to encourage and promote sport; and especially to motivate younger people to get involved. Social media undoubtedly has a significant role to play in any activities like this and I look forward to what I hope are well-planned and well-executed activities online. The Olympics is a big deal, and it deserves great and innovative use of social media.

Of course, I really hope that London 2012's social media strategy goes much further than what we have seen announced so far. Whilst it is great to try to engage young people in this way, I hope they will try to engage the rest of us too! As we wrote earlier this year, the Olympics should be the perfect social media event. As we wrote at the time:

...if there were ever a perfect candidate for coverage in social networks, online communities and social media, then the Olympics surely must be it.

From my experience with clients, the aspects that are common in successful online communities typically include:

  1. A shared or common interest or goal
  2. The subject may be broad but allows interest groups to form
  3. A subject people are or can be passionate about
  4. Enthusiasts and leaders who will help to shape the community
  5. An experience that is or can be inherently social, that people want to share with others
  6. A subject that can create strong opinions and passionate views
  7. Regularly changing and updated content
  8. Media and varying content types so different people can interact in different ways
  9. You can be more interested in the issues as you are in the people you are discussing them with
  10. An ability for the online experience to be supplemented with offline experience

A full social media strategy should look at ways to engage and involve people before, during and after the Olympic games. If Beijing this year was the first time people have been able to use social media to report on events, London in three years' time should be the first games to fully integrate social media into the Olympic experience. That's why I'm looking forward to watching LOCOG's social media strategy develop and to more elements of it being revealed. By 2012, social media will use tools we don't even have yet in ways we can't imagine. I hope London is ready to make the most of them.

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Matt Rhodes

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