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The Social Media Olympics

How the exponential growth of Social Media will change the way people watch the 2012 Olympic Games

It is no secret that a strong social media presence is vital in this day and age. Companies that effectively implement and develop a strong presence online are able to connect with a huge audience. Take Facebook, for example. Marketers can connect with any of the 900 million users with a well devised campaign.

Companies are about to be put to the ultimate test with the Olympics coming up.

 The Olympics attracts a huge audience from all over the world. For quite some time now, television has been the natural means by which people have found out information such as how many medals their country had won. Marketers frantically developed campaigns to the TV audience with commercials and sponsorship deals.

Intended Media Use During the 2012 London Olympic Games According to Internet Users in Select CountriesNow, fast forward to 2012. The summer OlympicsH in London are just a few weeks away and we live in a much faster paced world. For this reason, marketers are again frantically organizing a campaign for this year’s coverage of the Olympics. Enter social media and mobile internet. This time around, there is a whole new playing field for marketers. Refer to the graph to see that industry experts expect almost an even split between people using traditional mediums (TV and newspaper) and those turning to social media and internet resources. In other words, marketers can expect to see a blitz in the number of users of social media sites as the Olympic games progress.

I’m not a mathematician, but marketing arithmetic dictates that a wide-spread audience plus several mediums through which to capture it, equals the Cadillac of advertising opportunities. 

My immediate reaction to this notion went something like this, “OK, but the idea of turning to modern media channels for news is not out of the ordinary.” While it is true that social media as a means of advertisement and promotion has been around at least since the most recent Olympics, we need to consider the circumstances surrounding the most recent summer games four years ago. Facebook, Twitter, and mobile internet all existed in 2008, yes. But they certainly did not exist with the same prominence in everyday life as they do today.  Remember when I said there were 900 million Facebook users today? During the 2008 Olympics there were 100 million. Twitter, just six years removed from its launch, has accumulated 140 million users. It’s fascinating how fast the technology world moves. In 2008, I was not a member of Twitter, and my lame, Kyocera flip phone could hardly find service in my house, let alone possess internet connectivity capabilities. I look at how much more I am connected now versus then and it is mind boggling.

Top 3 Categories Among UK and US Mobile Internet Users Who Will Access 2008 Olympic Games Content, Q2 2008 (% of respondents)So, what is the difference between the 2008 Olympics and the 2012 Olympics from a marketing stand point? Undoubtedly, there is a larger, more closely connected community and audience to tap into. With an 800% growth over four years on Facebook, there is a whole new playing field for marketers to work with. Additionally, more people are expected to use their smart phones and mobile devices, which present another marketing opportunity (refer to graph). In four years, the popularity of social media has exploded. I am interested to see how other marketers have strategized to capitalize on the interest relating to the upcoming Olympics.

The games will be fun to watch too. 

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