methods. The XXI Winter Olympiad was to be the first"social media Games"."Social media makes sense for all the IOC'sactivities; more so than for nearly any otherorganisation that comes to mind," says Mark Adams,the IOC's Director of Communications. "Think of it like this: fans of the Olympic Games ingeneral are already a social network; they've globally,nationally and among friends shared preciousexperiences and emotions. The social network isalready there and has existed around each edition ofthe Games - all we are trying to do is to use the newdigital tools and 'platforms' to animate this community."What developed over the course of the Gameswas a two-way process between the event and itsfollowers that can only take place online. "Social mediais instant and intimate," Adams adds. "It doesn'treplace other forms of communications, but iscomplementary to them. The conversation is takingplace and we need to be a part of it. Taking Facebookas an example, we would be crazy not to want to beinvolved in a platform that has half a billion activeusers - that's one in 12 people in the world!" Alex Huot, then recently appointed as the IOC'sHead of Social Media, was part of the IOC's effortsto engage with its worldwide audience in a new way.Characteristically, he set out his aims on a Facebookblog."When I started managing social media for theIOC," he said, "I immediately saw the connectionbetween the concept of a 'fan' on Facebook and thelong-standing fans of the Olympic Games. Just as theOlympic rings are universally recognised, so too is the concept of a 'fan' of Olympic sports."GETTING INVOLVEDWith one month to go before the Games began, theIOC launched its Facebook page, which enabled fansto keep up-to-date with activities and events at theGames, while sharing their stories about Vancouver2010. By the time the Games ended on 28 February,the page had over one and a half million fans and had generated nearly 200 million impressions. As well as providing behind-the-scenes updatesfrom athletes, the Facebook page enabled fans toshare their Olympic experiences through mediumssuch as the Olympic photo contest, which saw almost4,000 photos submitted by fans, ranging from superbaction imagery to more personal pictures like thefamily pet dog wearing the Vancouver red mittens.Fans were also given the opportunity to win freetickets to see Olympic events, cheer for their favouriteathletes or even "play" Olympic sports, while theOfficial Vancouver 2010 Video Game received overfive million plays.Flickr and YouTube accounts complemented theFacebook presence and enabled the sharing of photosand video of the Vancouver Games online. The IOC'sBest of Us challenge on YouTube invited fans tocompete (safely) against athletes and video the ?OLYMPIC REVIEW43SOCIAL MEDIALeft and above rightSocialnetworking sites Facebook,Twitter, Flickrand Weibo areconnectingOlympic fansworldwide
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