OLYMPIC REVIEW45SOCIAL MEDIABelowSpeedskating star Apolo Anton Ohno in action inVancouver LeftThe Americanathlete keepsfans, friends andfamily updatedthrough Twitterresults. Could they hold more tennis balls than RafaelNadal? Could they hoola-hoop for more than 30seconds to beat snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis?These two challenges, out of 10 available, haveracked up over 750,000 views on YouTube, workingwonders for both the profile of the Games and thefitness of those responding. For the more sedentary among its fans, the IOCalso produced an online mini-game, playable viaFacebook, which allowed fans to compete virtuallyin a selection of fast-paced winter sports.Meanwhile, photo site Flickr was also used toshare pictures of the Games through Olympic imagery.More than 11,000 Olympic photos, taken by over 600photographers, were shared with viewers around theworld via the website. By the start of the inauguralYouth Olympic Games (YOG) in August 2010, theseimages had been viewed over 1 million times.The Facebook site, in particular, allowed the IOC to reach out and engage with younger Olympic fansaround the globe, who are increasingly difficult toreach through traditional media - almost 70% of theFacebook fans are under the age of 24. The IOC also kept fans updated on the latesthappenings at the Games and around the OlympicMovement through its Twitter account. Its followersinclude Olympic stars such as the multiple speedskating gold medallist Apolo Anton Ohno and Britishdiver Tom Daley, who exchange "tweets" with the IOC,answering questions and sharing experiences such astheir favourite moments competing at the Games.Alongside the more traditional press releases, theIOC now tweets information and updates to the mediaand public from events such as its quarterly ExecutiveBoard meetings - as well as highlights from the mostrecent edition of Olympic Review!YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMESEncouraged by the success of its digital strategy inVancouver, the IOC then began the build-up towardsthe Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Here, for thefirst time, young athletes, many of whom will go on torepresent their countries in future Olympic Games,were given the chance to communicate directly withtheir followers online. Provided with advice andguidelines in best practice for social media, theywere encouraged to share their experiences freshfrom competition, via Twitter or Facebook."It is important to note that young people are notonly using Twitter but also Facebook, websites, andtheir own personal blogs," explains Huot. "What they are sharing is also worth mentioning,as many of them are not only posting text but alsophotos and videos." Julian Lim, who led the social media team for theSingapore Youth Olympic Games OrganisingCommittee said: "Social media presents a valuablechannel for athletes to connect with their fans andthose who are interested in their sports. It's atremendous opportunity that sporting legends suchas Muhammad Ali and Pele did not have during theiramazing time as professional athletes." "We were very heartened to see that athleteswereinterested in learning about social mediaapplications. They attended workshops where theylearnt about free,web-based applications that couldhelp them with photo editing, micro-blogging,information resources, file-sharing, and even where to stream music legally. With that, we hope we've done our part to create an even moresocial media-savvy generation of athletes."It was an approach that, as in Vancouver, resulted in some impressive figures. The IOC's YouthOlympic Games Facebook page has been liked bymore than 70,000 people worldwide, a number thatcontinues to grow daily as the countdown quickens to the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbrucknext January. It was on the YOG Facebook page thatthe competition was held to choose a mascot forInnsbruck. Fans were invited to pick their favouritefrom a final shortlist of three. ENGAGING WITH OLYMPIC FANS Were those responsible surprised by the hugepopularity of the Winter Games in Vancouver and the YOG on Facebook and other social media?"Not really," Huot says. "We need to go where our fansare and engage them on a level playing field wherethey can have their say. We actually tailor a lot of theeditorial content to what our fans want and like. Bylistening to what they have to say, we find ourselvescloser to our audience." This closeness is not just about sport; it's aboutgeography, too. "One of the great things about socialmedia is that you can geotarget - reach specific ?
46OLYMPIC REVIEWSOCIAL MEDIAcommunities in their own language with materials that interest specific groups," Adams explains. "Not only that - but it can be done in a way thatwould be prohibitive using more traditional means,even the web. "We've recently launched on a Chinese versionof Twitter - 'Weibo' - and we already have close to 500,000 followers. We can give them Chinesematerial in Chinese, while of course bearing in mindthe general messages we want to communicate toall our followers," says Adams."Facebook has always been focused on buildingways for people to connect with each other and shareinformation with their friends," says Facebook UK'sStephen Haines. "We think this is important because people areshaping how information moves through theirconnections. People are increasingly discoveringinformation not just through links to web pages butalso from the people and things they care about." This is a sentiment echoed by the IOC's MarkAdams. "It's important not to lose sight of why we aredoing this. Simply building numbers may be gratifying- but we are building these communities for exactlythe same reason that we carry out our other functionsin the Communications department... ultimately wewant to communicate Olympic values; social media issimply a new and effective channel to do this."LOOKING AHEAD TO 2012London 2012 will be an Olympic Games whose buzzwill be generated online as much as in the real world."Facebook is an essential part of experiencing anddiscussing the Olympic Games, bringing the athletesand their real, daily experiences to the world in a way that TV and other one-way mediums cannot," saysHaines. Although the social media build-up to London2012 is already well underway, by the time the Gamesbegin, extra tools will no doubt be added to the mix. When asked whether London will continue theIOC's campaign, and whether it plans to extend itsreach across social media, the IOC's Mark Adams has a definitive, one-word answer: "Yes!" ??http://facebook.com/olympicgames?http://twitter.com/olympics?http://youtube.com/olympics?http://www.flickr.com/iocmedia?http://facebook.com/youtholympicgames?http://t.sina.com/olympics BelowImageswere sharedaround the globethrough sites likeFlickr, Facebookand YouTube atSingapore 2010,the first YouthOlympic Games