In a few short days, life as we now know on planet earth it will come to a stand-still. The world's eyes will be fastened on the great men and women in tights, and other controversy-swirling sports gear, giving of their athletic best for God, their country, a place in history and of course the huge sponsorship deals in their future should they medal. Yes, the XXX Summer Olympics will be under way from July 27 to August 12 in London.
There are many, including yours truly, who will never make it to that end of the world to see the history-making hot action -- but we will not be left out as this will be the first Olympics in history which will be "the most tweeted, tagged and liked" via social media. As a social media devotee, worshipping fervently at the Twitter and Facebook shrines I am excited and as happy as a pig in mud.
Writing for Associated Press (June 14, 2012), David Stringer and Stephen Wilson reported that, "Organizers expect more tweets, Facebook posts, videos and photos to be shared from London than any other sports event in history. Mobile phones have become smarter, laptops lighter and tablet devices a must-have for technology lovers - meaning social-savvy fans, whether watching on television or inside the Olympic stadium itself, will be almost constantly online. Fans will be offered "a never before seen insider's view of what many are calling the social media Olympics, or the "socialympics."
And they are right. At the last Summer Olympics in Beijing held in 2008, Twitter had about six million users and Facebook 100 million. Today, the figure is 140 million for Twitter and 900 million for Facebook. Plus everyone has a mobile device that is linked in to social media and as they perform the most mundane of their daily tasks, they are led to "tweet it", wanting to share, or terrorise the rest of us, whether or not we are interested in their "doings". Indeed with mobile phones locked and loaded, the human race has become a very "sharing" one.
So we can rest assured that every bit of news surrounding Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser and all the world's favorites will be frantically tweeted and tagged. In fact it has already begun with the world and his wife weighing in (for or against) the look of the team outfits designed by Cedella Marley, Bob Markey's daughter, for the Olympics opening ceremony. When last I checked there were 999 shares of the post featuring the photo of track star Bolt in a pair of yellow trousers, trimmed with black, with a green coloured, black-trimmed top, standing beside a female model in a print skirt with yellow designs. There were over one thousand comments about the outfits as suddenly, everyone and his Granny has become a style guru proclaiming weightily how awful or how lovely the outfits look on the athletes. Believe me, we Jamaicans can be very.. er, strident in expressing our disdain or love. When we love, we love hard and when we hate - our opinions are biting and caustic and often times have nothing to do with a logical discussion about the subject at hand.
Many of us will be gathered at the "social media stand pipe" to catch a glimpse of sports history and of course the hawkers of products will not be left out as now they know where to come to catch our attention. According to the article, "Sponsors have also taken their Olympic campaigns online. Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Visa and BP are among those using Facebook to reach younger consumers. Samsung is even offering to paint the faces of Internet users with their national flag - virtually, of course." I don't know about you, but I am dying to see how this one plays out. talk about taking it to the next level.
The International Olympic Committee, (IOC) the international, non-governmental, non-profit body that organizes the Games, has 760,000 Twitter followers and 2.8 million on Facebook and plans to host live chats from inside the Olympic village with athletes. The IOC will allow members of the public to pose questions using social media accounts and has already created an online portal, called the Athletes' Hub, which will collate posts from their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The IOC has rules which states, inter alia, that athletes and accredited personnel are free to post, blog and tweet "provided that it is not for commercial and/or advertising purposes" and does not ambush official Olympic sponsors and broadcasters. Social media posts should be written in a "first-person, diary-type format. Says Alex Hout, the IOC's head of social media, "We encourage the use of social media. We encourage athletes to engage and to connect." He points out though that, "There are some rules to follow, there's no question about it. But we don't police the fans, we don't police the athletes. We don't do that. What we do is we engage."
I myself am waiting with bated breath to see who will post what, paying close attention to the feedback from the back benchers and the world and his wife. Buckle up for this great socialympics ride.
Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with RO Communications Jamaica, specialising in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.