The XXI Olympic Winter Olympics are euphemistically being called the "Social Games." Based on sponsors vying for the spotlight, more consumers will have their eyes glued to their smartphone screens than they will to TV. If Coca-Cola can motivate 500 million Internet transactions as a result of the Super Bowl (a one-day event), can you imagine what sponsors, apps, social networks and search engines stand to gain from sixteen days of events in Vancouver. Reaching out via social media, this Olympics may rival China in attention, if not in spectacle.
SPONSORSOn the months leading up to the event, the marketing teams of a multitude of brands have been strategizing as to the most effective means to product and services vis a vis social media distribution.
The following is a list of the some of the sponsors who are going for the GOLD alongside the athletes
Coke. The brand created a virtual snowball fight for consumers to share via social media. It also has an iPhone app with NBC that has sounds of cheering, air horns and a Coke being poured. Plus, Coke-sponsored athletes will tweet on Twitter about their experiences.
Visa. "About 40% of its Olympic marketing funds will go to digital, four times the past share," marketing chief Antonio Lucio says. It created a YouTube channel where its six Olympic spots can be seen before they air on TV. Folks can pick their favorite and enter to have their names appear in the ad.
McDonald's. The chain has created a virtual scavenger hunt: How Do You McNugget? The first to figure out such things as how Olympic athletes eat McNuggets can win a trip for two to the 2012 London Games. "We want to leverage high-impact experiences," spokeswoman Heather Oldani says.
GE. The company is using the Olympics as a "launch pad" for its biggest social-media push, "a program for better health," says Linda Boff, global director of marketing communications. Under the Twitter tag "gohealthy," GE will have 25 experts tweet about things folks can do to be healthier. It also will offer advice on its Facebook page and health-related videos on YouTube.
APPs If you are one of the 'early adaptor' purchasers of Apple's new iPad, check out the one free app that a lot of folks will be downloading called NBC Olympics App. This brand new application will let you keep up with medal counts and updates on all of the action from Vancouver and will allow viewers to access video highlights of most of the events. Plus, you can follow your favorite nation, sports and athletes on Facebook and Twitter. And you'll be happy to know if you couldn't afford the purchase of the iPad, this same app can also be downloaded to your iPhone or iPod Touch.
Bell, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, and official sponsor of the Vancouver Games, has also released its own free 'cowbell' app, which is geared toward event attendees. iPhone and iPod-less fans can add Google’s “Games Gadget” to their iGoogle page, which also features medal counts, TV schedules, and up-to-date news about all things 'Olympic.'
In conjunction with the Winter Olympics, The New York Times will be offering recommendations to Foursquare users on restaurants, attractions, shopping and nightlife in Vancouver, Whistler and the nearby town of Squamish. The tips will be pulled from The Times’s travel and entertainment coverage.
"Foursquare users who check in at one of the suggested venues will earn a New York Times Olympics badge," said Stacy Green, public relations manager for The New York Times Company.
TWITTER & FACEBOOKBoth social networks will be covering the events in Vancouver closely and may prove to be a more informative source that even TV.
With Twitter's more than 23 million hits and 1.2 billion tweets per month – Twitter will no doubt have a profound effect on Olympic information and viewership in 2010. To that end, the microblogging platform has just released a Verified Tweeting Olympians resource page where you can cross-reference what the athletes are tweeting about in real-time from one source. Presently this site is following 100 athletes from Apolo Ohno to Joannie Rochette.
The Winter Olympic Athletes site is collating similar tweets in a similar fashion.
On Facebook, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has created an Olympic Games Page, which already has more than 1.2 million followers. The page plans to feature updates, photos and videos submitted by the athletes.
The International Olympic Committee is also using Facebook to conduct a fan photo contest, awarding free tickets to events to winners, and has created an Olympic Mini-Games on their social network.
VIDEOCanadian network CTV will be streaming every moment of the games live on CTVolympics.ca, in an effort to ramp up viewership and also embrace digital trends. Viewers in the United States can tune to NBCOlympics.com or MSN.com, which will both be hosting over 400 hours of live event coverage, and 1,000 hours of on-demand, streaming HD video content. Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium has also developed a number of Internet browser tools to collect, download, and deliver up-to-date Olympic news right to users’ desktops.
The long awaited Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies will be staged on February 12, amid a firestorm of speculation, rumours and full-out spoilers in the form of rehearsal videos released on YouTube. Here is 32-second sneak peak.
SEARCH ENGINESOn the basis of their official partnership with NBCOlympics.com, Microsoft's Bing was the first search engine to announce their 2010 Olympic search features. Powered by Microsoft Silverlight, over 400 hours of live event coverage, and 1,000 hours total available of on-demand, streaming video content in HD quality, will be available on both the official NBC Olympics site and on MSN.com.
Over at Google, an international landing page has been created to help users Explore the Games with Google, aka, “Google.com/Games 10," with Google Maps being a main component to track medal counts by country, and special “Street View” coverage with the use of a snowmobile to get around the games’ event venues.
So the Social Games are in full swing in the social media space and it will be interesting to see how Vancouver fares as a result. Eighteen months after the spectacular opening of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, the organizers of the Winter Games in Vancouver are challenged to top the Chinese. Touted as the first-ever "Social Games" the excitement created by social media might be just the catalyst to make the opening ceremonies and subsequent competitions stand out from previous Olympics.
As a result of all of us getting social, let's hope the 2010 Games are remembered as one of the best organized, most enjoyable Olympics ever. So rev up those mobile phones and let's hit the slopes!