2012 Olympic Coverage and Social Media

Today the 2012 Summer Olympic Games commence in Great Britain. The coverage2012_Olympics_and_social_media of athletes trying to qualify, and stories of those who already have qualified are now well underway.

This year along with the typical news and print coverage, there is a growing social media presence in two respects.

First, the way many consumers will use media will be more mobile and more social. Second, the way athletes are allowed to use social media is receiving increasing attention.

Olympic mobile video viewing and Viewer Social Behavior

According to eMarketer, an increasing number of consumers will view the games on their phones rather than television. Smartphones will also play an important role in social interactions during the Olympics, more on this later.

There is an increasing phenomenon in the US called two-screen viewing. More than half (52%) of US adult cell phone owners use their phones for a diversion, to connect with others while watching TV.

  • 74% of smartphone owners are what Pew Research calls “connected viewers”.  These viewers are looking for a diversion during commercial breaks. Here are some of the activities of viewers:
  • 23% Sent text to someone watching the same show
  • 22% Used phone to verify information viewed on TV
  • 20% Visited a site mentioned on TV
  • 11% Checked out what others online were saying about the program they were watching
  • 11% Posted own comments about show they were watching
  • 6% voted for a reality show contest

Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

Since consumers are already ahead of the curve in the social buying world, brands would be wise to integrate their marketing behaviors keeping in mind they now have an active viewer. They should provide links to web sites and other resources to stimulate users to investigate, share and perhaps even buy while they are watching events.

Olympic mobile viewing devices

According to eMarketer, the primary viewing device will be the laptop. While this may not be a surprise, it is interesting to note that the smartphone is a very close second. Many users plan to use their smartphones when away from home, for example, at work.

Verizon has just announced a widget designed to make the viewing experience more social. There are a number of features in the widget that provide useful content for viewers; such as the ability for viewers to find athlete bios and follow news stories, events and results.  In addition, video clips highlighting performances can be viewed.

For some time, cable companies and cellphone network providers have been developing an increasingly mobile viewing experience to allow a user to view programs across multiple devices. Now this capability is being scaled to accommodate an event.

Social Media for Athletes

At the London Olympic Games, athletes are receiving social media blogging and Internet guidelines for the first time ever. Nothing like this existed four years ago; these new guidelines are a reflection of the growth of social media.

The rules are designed to address the personal behavior of the athletes. However, there is an even larger issue at stake, protecting the investments of the marketing partners.

An International Olympic Committee spokesperson has stated that this will be the first “conversational” Olympics. An Olympic Athlete’s Hub has been created to serve as a directory of the Olympians who are on social media.

Social Media Olympics

This Olympics will provide coverage challenges for networks as participants and attendees will be posting results and breaking news 24/7. This isn’t a new challenge for networks or marketers.

Innovative marketers and network executives will find ways to leverage social media to add to the enjoyment of this unique event. Instead of trying to control the messages, engage consumers.

We are already seeing some of this thinking with the development of the Verizon widget, and no doubt the network will allow consumers to view and review events on their mobile devices.

The real beneficiary will be consumers/viewers. What are other ways these Olympic Games will be more social?