Much like the rest of the country this past week, two types of Olympic personalities have surfaced in the GFM office: those who don’t mind watching the various medal results pop up on their various social profiles during the day, and those who have sworn off Facebook, logged off Twitter and turned a blind eye to the network news in an effort to keep their primetime Olympic viewing safe from spoilers. Do you recognize these two personalities in your surroundings?
Regardless of your preference, an interesting dilemma is taking place in the world of new media, live events, and Olympic viewer expectations. As such, we’ve dedicated this week’s social media reads to the Summer Games, NBC, Twitter, and the rest of the media players in London as we close out the first week of competition.
Many of the social media challenges surfacing during the London Olympics can be used as case studies to understand how any company can (and should) approach online brand management, promotion and protection. Quickly becoming clear is that the minute you try to direct the social media conversation is the minute you lose control. As this article so aptly states, “The best way to lead brand engagement is as an influencer, not a director.” Placing restrictions on social communities can kill what they’ve been built for – real-time relevancy.
Social media rebellion catches on quickly as you’ll see with this article highlighting how many Olympic athletes are using the power of Twitter and #hashtags to fight against the IOC’s Rule 40 forbidding many London competitors the right to mention their sponsors in social media communications during the Games. The combination of the swift nature of the Internet and the strategic use of Twitter hashtags has created a powerful insurgency more effective than any offline demonstration.
At this point, it’s pretty clear – NBC’s Olympic new media strategy has been anything but flawless. ReadWriteWeb boils it down to three flaws that we can all learn from: put your audience first, respect the way they communicate, and have a pro-active plan in the event of a crisis.
Shifting perspective a bit, what if the blame doesn’t entirely lie with NBC? Perhaps we’ve entered the age of social media spoilers with no looking back to the good ol’ days of sitting down to watch gold medal surprises and unexpected underdog triumphs? The Atlantic comes to the defense of NBC stating that it’s the first time there are two Olympics unraveling before us this summer: the highly-produced and time-delayed TV segments from London and the events as they play out unscripted online. And perhaps the frustration from both the viewers and the network originate from something much bigger than just spoilers, but from “a tension of time: a matter of the new alchemy between the immediate and the evergreen.” Either way, one thing is clear – the way in which we’re consuming entertainment is definitely changing.