Last night’s Summer Olympics closing ceremony was a wonderful way to close out the historic sporting events. The United States had the most wins with a total of 104 medals – while China and Great Britain were close behind.
Throughout the games and even throughout the closing ceremony, it was hard to escape the power of social media. Let’s take a look at some ways this is changing the way the games are presented and watched nowadays:
Consumption – There’s no doubt about it, fans and athletes alike love social media. It’s estimated that there were over 50 million tweets related to the Olympics. Rabid Ryan Lochte fans celebrated with the signature #JEAH hashtag, while gymnast Gabby Douglas gained over half a million new Twitter followers in just under 2 weeks. This year’s games were unlike any other because social media really has provided a channel for fans all over the world to be more connected to each other and their favorite athletes. Wonder if ancient Greek athletes could ever imagine something like this!
Criticism – NBC was continuously bashed throughout the Olympics for their lackluster coverage of events. Check out the #NBCfail hashtag to see a sample of what fans are saying. Early on, Twitter suspended (and quickly unsuspended) the account of a journalist that tweeted the “private” email address of a network executive and urged fans to email him. Fans have proven to be extremely vocal and big networks can now instantaneously see what consumers are criticizing them for.
Consequences – A Greek and Swiss athlete were suspended from their respective teams for racist tweets. Imagine all the hard work and not being able to participate because of a tasteless remark. Of course, these remarks and “jokes” go against everything that the Olympic spirit stands for. The debate is whether athletes should be suspended for such behavior or if social media usage should be restricted/controlled in the first place. Racism and ignorance has and will always exist. But the immediacy of social media is changing how we see it because it makes that hatred more tangible and permanent.
The next Summer Olympics is set to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Until then social media consumption will only grow. Companies should to keep their eyes on what their next move is in order to effectively capitalize on all the potential. And athletes must think more carefully to what they broadcast to the world. The question is, what will they learn until then?