In case you didn’t know, the Olympics are coming to the UK this year. That’s right although the build-up may have been somewhat low key; the 2012 games are to be held in London from 27 July until 12 August 2012. Who am I kidding? They’ve been everywhere; switch on the television, tune in to the radio or visit Google news and you there is a good chance you will see something about the 30th Olympiad. You’ve also probably had, or will have, the Olympic Torch pass through your town at some point – if you haven’t seen it, then do so, it’s worth it!
There are many firsts at this year’s Olympic Games: the first time women’s boxing will be held, the first time a city has hosted the modern Olympics three times, the first time a carbon footprint will be calculated at a games. The one I’m most interesting in though, being the technology geek that I am, is that the London Olympics will be first social media games ever held! Don’t get me wrong, I love my sport and I will be watching every event that I can (from my arm chair because I couldn’t get tickets), it’s just that this being the first “socialympics” means that I am able to compete.
Sign of the times
I guess it really it a sign of the times that I can no longer watch anything on television anymore without having my smartphone, laptop or tablet close to hand. And I’m clearly not the only one judging by Twitter trends and Facebook status updates during sports events.
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This will be the first Olympics told in 140 characters or less and Twitter are bracing themselves for the surge in traffic. Twitter is well used to fans ‘tweeting’ during live events and had a glimpse of things to come during the Champion’s League football match between Chelsea and Barcelona back in April, when 13,684 tweets were sent per second as the incredible events unfolded at the Camp Nou. That was a record for a sporting event, even surpassing the Superbowl, so you can only imagine how many tweets will be sent during marquee events such as the men’s 100 metres take place in front of an audience of 4 billion people; especially if Britain takes the gold!
Social media will also give us an insight into the athletes during the games. Usain Bolt has over half a million followers on twitter and 6 million ‘likes’ on Facebook and he will no doubt be posting regular updates from the athlete’s village, as will many other competitors – interacting with fans in the process.
Those lucky enough to have tickets will also be sharing photos and experiences from the games, although if you’re going don’t think about uploading a video to a public site, broadcasters have paid billions for exclusive rights and will not take to kindly to your amateur videos going viral!
Okay, so the last Olympics in Beijing was only four years ago in 2008, so why wasn’t this the first “socialympics”? Well, there was certainly a little bit of social media interaction going on during those games but social media users weren’t anywhere near as prevalent as they are today. Back in 2008, Twitter had only 6 million users and Facebook 100 million. Today, Twitter has 140 million active users and Facebook has swelled to 900 million! Those are the type of figures you need to host a “socialympics”!
Going back to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and although internet speeds were improving, there were no real social networks and nobody had smartphones. And as for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, does anybody remember dial-up?
The “socialympics;” no need to train, no special dietary requirements and no need to even get up off the sofa – sounds like my kind of sport!