This year’s Olympic Games are more social than every. Conversations are popping up on social media sites like Facebook and results are spreading across the world via Twitter seconds after they finish, turning the Olympic Games into the Social Games.
When the 2012 Olympics kicked off in London, there was no doubt that the summer games would reflect the changed times in which the event occurs, with multi-platform global social engagement like never before.
‚”The Games are being spoken about via social media via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube,‚” says Greg Viljoen, Cape Town-based Head of Digital with global media agency Carat.
Viljoen says the buzz at this year’s event is the first Social Games, ushering in an era which will see the world’s public engage with the international athletics extravaganza in a way never seen before.
The figures speak for themselves, says Viljoen: In 2008, there were a mere 100 million people using Facebook. Four years later in 2012, this figure has increased to 900 million users worldwide.
In 2008, only 6 million people were bothering to condense their thoughts into 140 characters to share on online and micro-blogging service, Twitter. Fast-forward from Beijing to London, and Twitter has morphed into a global behemoth, now sporting more than 500 million users.
In South Africa, mobile access has also become a game changer. Currently, the country has 12 million mobile Internet users a huge increase from four years ago, when most people who accessed the internet did so via non-mobile devices.
‚”With social media being bigger now than ever before and the public’s access to the internet via mobile devices on the increase, everyone can follow and have their say instantaneously, which will make these games far more social and interactive than anything before,‚” says Viljoen.
‚”Social Media now gives spectators a voice which they did not have before, and this of course gives them the sense of being far more involved. From voicing opinions and commenting on performances whether from their couches in Langebaan or Limpopo, or from the pound seats in the stadium at Olympic Park in Stratford, London, social media will be the voice of the Olympics and the vehicle through which millions of people express themselves.‚”
Already, the content originating around the Olympics are distinctly different, and many debates, arguments and non-sanctioned content will find its way into the way the world views and engages with the event, Viljoen points out.
‚”How quickly did an Australian athlete’s ‚’provocative’ warm-up routine go viral on YouTube: how many hundreds of thousands of shares will the pic of the AbFab ladies lighting a ciggie from the Olympic torch ultimately garner: and how many more athletes and commentators will make false starts by losing the Twitter grip, such as the Greek athlete who was expelled following her racist comment on the network?