Social media has changed the way we live, and true to form, stands to change the way we experience the Olympics. For many athletes, especially those in sports that don’t tend to get a lot of traditional media coverage, the Olympics are their once-every-four-years chance to connect with the world in a way that can help them earn a living for many years to come. Because of its ability to help people connect on a more personal level, social media will certainly be a huge part of most Olympians’ Summer Games experience.
Of course, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is dealing with many of the same challenges that everday companies face when it comes to dealing with the use of social media. They need to provide guidelines that will help the athletes make good decisions, decide what to do when they don’t, and preserve their relationships with the high-paying media outlets that cover the games. It doesn’t always work. Several athletes have already come under scrutiny for their use of social media, most notably a Greek triple jumper who was expelled from the games for posting a racist tweet. Maybe that’s because having rules, and the IOC does, doesn’t prevent people from saying or doing stupid things. Experience does. And so does guidance. It’s important to remember that most athletes are young, and young people don’t always think things through all the way to their logical conclusion. Many businesses face this same problem when turning their social media accounts over to their youngest staff member because they know the platforms so well. But they fail to provide them with guidance, which puts the company at risk.
Maybe in addition to providing rules about how athletes should tweet, the IOC should include statements reminding athletes to think about their overall goals. Any good marketing plan is tied to goals and if anyone on earth knows about setting goals, these athletes do. My guess is that if more people (not just athletes) asked themselves if what they are posting fits into their plan for their life and their career, there would be a lot fewer people tripping over their words and landing virtual face plants.
Wondering how to deal with this challenge in your company? Check out two documents we created to help: the Social Media Guidelines or Policy Template and the Reacting to Social Media Flowchart. Both can be found here.
Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Twitter as @clearverve.