social media policies

Olympic athletes marketing impact through social media banned 2014 Sochi games.

The first big story of the Olympics wasn’t the first gold medal winners or the underlying human rights violations but more prevalent is the hash tag #sochiproblems. As the mass majority of the worlds athletes and journalists traveled to Sochi they began to find issues as unfit amenities such as questionable toilets and yellow murky tap water in the Olympic village. The hastag quickly became popular and became a Twitter account. The account @SochiProblems has grown to 340,000 followers which makes that 120,000 more followers than the actual @Sochi2014 account.

One reason why @SochiProblems might have had such a large and quick following is because the International Olympic Committee banned on athletes and other accredited personnel from posting videos or audio of events, and competitions taking place at Olympic Venues or the Olympic Village. Also participants are allowed to post content and photos, however the IOC requires that all posts must be in first-person, diary-type format. These social media restraints are put in place for only allowing participants to communicate with friends and family and supporters, but not for commercial and advertising for possible sponsors.

The Olympics are the biggest stage for any athlete and for most, it is their time to stand out, market, and brand themselves. Social media is being used and managed to limit athletes ability to brand and sponsor themselves. We can see success in the Olympics gives participants overnight followers and in turn, future sponsors. Sage Kotesenburg is an example of having gained 43,000 followers since winning the games first gold medal in snowboarding. That’s not too bad for a kid from Park City, Utah that has been riding and snowboarding for all his life now, having the exposure and following to attract large sponsors. Also athletes that have sponsorships are not allowed to post about brands unless they have been approved by the IOC.

My opinion on the social media banned for athletes is that they should be able to further themselves, their legacy, and build their brand because there is no better time to market themselves. The social media ban was initially to limit athletes talking “smack” and for talking bad about the conditions in Sochi. However I feel with the creation and popularity of #sochiproblems the media ban was less effective and ultimately hindered athletes ability to have sponsors and market themselves.

Olympians (and some brands) jump on #SochiSelfie trend

We all were either shocked or unphased by the naming of “Selfie” as 2013’s word of the year, but the trend didn’t stop there.  Olympians of all kinds are taking the time to put their front facing cell phone camera to use and in doing so sharing the experience of the Sochi Olympics with their thousands of followers back home and throughout the world.

Steven Holcomb USA Bobsled

Steven Holcomb, USA Bobsleder, used the #SochiSelfie hashtag on Twitter and shared a photo he posted to Facebook with the Olympic rings behind him.

Aimee Fuller GB Snowboarding

Aimee Fuller, Team GB Snowboarder takes a selfie in front of a Russian statue and NBC Olympics posted it to Twitter.

preston griffail putin selfie

Preston Griffall, a part of the USA Luge team snaps a selfie with a distant Vladmir Putin in the background and posts to Twitter.  Snapping selfies with Putin also became a small trend on social media throughout the Games.

Oreo selfie

Even milk’s favorite cookie, Oreo, joined in on the #SochiSelfie trend posting this close-up to Twitter.

Any event, even the Olympics, becomes a social sharing event thanks to today’s social media networks, phones and other technology.  Through the use of their social media accounts, Olympians seem more like us: sharing moments that they want to remember with their followers.

Despite the early questions of media and social media use at the start of the Games, many of the Olympians have jumped on board.  The IOC’s Social Media Guidelines outline that they must post in first-person in a diary-type format.  They must not “assume the role of a journalist, reporter or any other media capacity, or disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organization.” Photo guidelines state that they are not “permitted to commercialize, sell or otherwise distribute these photographs.”  Although there are guidelines to what can be posted, Olympians seem to be making the most of it sharing photos of meeting others and representing their country.

Unfortunately, it seems the selfie trend isn’t going away any time soon. Here are some more #SochiSelfies.

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014 Logo

Welcome to “The Social Games from #SRUSM”

I want to welcome you to The Social Games from #SRUSM! This blog is made up of student contributors from my Social Media course at Slippery Rock University (SRU). The hashtag (#srusm) is used in my course to share and discuss topics surrounding social media. Throughout the Olympics, they will be analyzing and posting commentary surrounding the use of social media during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

In combination with mainstream media, social media has become a powerful communication tool in society. The role of my Social Media course at SRU is to introduce students to how to leverage social media tools in the communication industry (i.e., marketing, PR, etc.). This blog will make the connection between the concepts taught in my course and the use of social media during the Olympics.

What Can You Expect to Read Here?
According to an article in Fast Company, the 2012 London Summer Olympics was amplified by the use of social media through the sharing of conversation and media. How will Sochi fair with social media? We have already seen the impact social media is having as the Olympics approach with reports of potential social media bans for journalists by the IOC and countries placing partial social media bans on their athletes to avoid distraction, as well as hate tweets forcing U.S. Olympian Ashley Wagner to quit Twitter.

My students will be analyzing and posting their commentary on the role of social media during the Olympics. I expect a wide-variety of topics to be discussed on this blog, including social media use by athletes/participants to how brands integrate social media and the Olympics into their marketing efforts. They will also be responsible for reading the IOC Social Media Blogging and Internet Guidelines to be well informed on Olympic policies.

As you follow the commentary on this blog, I hope you find it informative and encourage you to join in on the conversation by posting comments!