The importance of social media in the Olympics.

Friday, August 10, 2012

By Chelsey Tattersall of The Reporters' Academy Melbourne.

London 2012 is one of the biggest trademarks of the year, if not the decade; with it branded everywhere, on cars, clothes, buildings and social media. The London 2012 Facebook page has over 1.4 million likes and the twitter account with just fewer than 1.6 million followers.

The power of social media has already shown its force in the Olympics, with a whole section of the Opening Ceremony being based around the new era of technology, texting and the influence new technology has had on the world, with even the inventor of wireless internet at the ceremony.

Since the games have started, #London 2012 has been constantly trending on twitter, with every minute, more than 20 people tweeting about the games.

Most of the world are engaged in some type of social media, results, news, updates on medal tallies and breaking of world records are all posted on Olympic athletes own personal pages or their National Olympic Committees pages or twitter accounts.

Social media is a way that everyone around the world can be involved, with almost every country being “online.” This breaks down barriers, social media is a way of communicating with the whole world, a person in American can easily tweet a person in Australia, without realising it, they are communicating with a person 15, 230 km away.

Some countries are more experienced with social media than others, but that doesn’t mean they will be left behind. Oceania countries have recently expanded their campaign and promotion to social media, with almost every athlete from every pacific country having a Facebook page, so their fans in Oceania can easily find out how they are going in London.

Likes and follows of Oceania athletes sky rocketed after the opening ceremony, with Fijian flag bearer Josateki Naulu going from a mere 14 likes on his page to 400 in less than a week. The power of social media is incredible and not to be underestimated.

“It’s good to communicate with people more, not just from Australia, but from everywhere else, relatives everywhere,” comments Cate and Bronte Campbell, Australian Olympic Swimmers.

London 2012 is using this to their advantage; they have the ability to communicate with the entire world by using social media, and this enables anyone and everyone to easily see what is happening, whether it is on the other side of the world, or on the other side of the road.

Cook Islands coach Aaron Osborne explains how social media can benefit athletes. “It’s a really good way to keep in touch with everyone back home.”

Large countries such as England, America, Canada and Australia have all jumped on the social media bandwagon to promote and give supporters the opportunity to feel closer to their heroes representing their countries.

Jeff Horn, Australian Boxer, commented on how since the games have started, the following on social media pages has risen and how it makes him feel. “I’ve noticed the numbers picking up a lot during the games as well, people I don’t know, so it’s good getting the extra support…just knowing that people are watching, some I don’t even know wishing me luck is just nice to know.”

For many athletes competing in London, they are away from most of their family and friends, and social media is the main way of communicating with the people back home.

“It’s pretty much been our main source of connection outside the village and to people back home, because of the time difference, it’s hard to call people, so it’s pretty much been my only connection apart from people who are over here,” said Cate and Bronte Campbell.

The London 2012 motto “Inspire A Generation” can be used in many ways. For social media it is allowing the younger generation to use their skills of social media for good, to follow and learn more about their country’s athletes and ones from all over the world.

Social media plays a big role in the London 2012 Olympic Games. It is a simple, fast and effective way of communicating with the whole entire world, it allows for fans to contact their inspirations and for the athletes to get closer to their fans. Social media allows the whole world to come together to voice their opinion, and the London 2012 Olympics is the perfect stage.