How will social media enhance the experience of watching—or participating in—the Olympics? How has social media advanced since the last Olympic Games?
1. London promises to be the first true social media Olympics. Instead of watching the games in a leaned-back position from our chairs and couches, we’ll lean forward, thumbing away on our tablets, smartphones, and ultrabooks. As it’s done for the Super Bowl, social media will make the experience of watching the Olympics from afar almost as thrilling as watching the games live.
2. Can you imagine, had Twitter’s partnership with NBC been in place during the Beijing games, how Americans would have exploded when Jason Lezak came from behind to win the men’s 4x100 free relay? There’s nothing a sports fan loves more than sharing the thrill of victory. (Similarly, misery loves company, which, thanks to the web, is now global.)
3. Athletes face enough distractions in the famed Olympic Village. When Twitter and Facebook and Foursquare and Instagram are but a smartphone away, social media presents an enormous potential distraction to the athletes, most of whom are digital natives. Can they resist the temptation to respond to their fans’ tweets? To taunt their rivals? To give a shout-out to their friends?
4. Will the IOC institute a policy policing athletes’ use of social media, just it does with their appearance in advertisements (the blackout period)?
5. Commercials will incorporate hash tags and links to their Facebook pages in their ads.
6. Watching the games online in the office will tax companies’ Internet bandwidth—and test the patience of IT departments.