The International Olympic Committee has recently unveiled new social media features and integrations leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Tineka Smith talks to Alex Huot, head of social media for the International Olympics Committee, on how social media has evolved since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
IOC Head of Social Media, Alex Huot
How do you think the Olympics have changed since the 2008 Olympic Games in terms of social media?
I think we need to look at the platforms and look at how many people are on Facebook and Twitter. Comparing 2008 and where we are today- that’s a big change. FB has almost one billion users, it’s the platform that has the most people on it. I think if we look at that change it’s like going from black and white television to colour television. That is a big change – if you were to compare it to Vancouver, which is where we began to engage in social media I launched the Facebook page two weeks before the games in Vancouver which had 5 fans and now in 2 weeks we had one million. That’s where we began to say wow there’s really something here. So I think it’s changed in a way where it was kind of very simple and now it’s become something that is quite complex. There are lot of platforms out there and there are lots of different kinds of engagement and I think in 2008 brands weren’t really broadcasting. In 2010 we began broadcasting ourselves and today we’ve become our own kind of broadcast channel.
If social media is a dominant form of communication for an event as big as the Olympics what does the mean for businesses in the future?
The big question for businesses is what kind of relationship do you want to have with your customers? The most important thing is trust, engagement and transparency. Those are the key things that you’re product or service needs to bring to the customers and if you have that in your core strategy then I think you’ll be very successful.
How can businesses increase their engagement on social media platforms during the Olympics?
Social media is about connecting. The Olympics is a celebration and it’s about fun. The opening ceremony is a great amazing party where people have a good time and I think that what a business is pulling together needs to be fun and engaging. The project managers driving social strategies need to really want to engage and have fun with it.
This is being called the first "social" Olympics how do you think social media will influence future Olympic Games?
I think we are still discovering right now, it’s hard to forecast how things will be in 4 years. If we look at Beijing in 2008 and where we are today, it’s completely different in a sense of technology influencing how we behave and how much we’re sharing, I do see a trend in people sharing and not caring about what they share. I think with social media the first generation was very picky about what they share but I think younger people are much more chilled out about it. I think we’re going to see more and more people sharing stuff online and not really caring about the fact that they’ve shared online. That’s something we’re going to see moving forward but one thing for sure is that we’re not going to see it go away. We’re used to now communicating with our friends and with family on Facebook and Twitter.
You can read more about how the International Olympic Committee is using social media during the Games here.
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