Athletes and Canadians going for social media gold in London
When diver Alexandre Despatie injured himself in a diving accident in Madrid on June 13th of this year, his Twitter followers were the first to know about his progress. When heptathlete Jessica Zelinka wanted to fund her family’s journey to watch her at the upcoming Olympics, she took to Twitter to auction off her race bib.
The London 2012 Olympic Games are shaping up to be the most accessible, interactive and innovative Olympiad yet. As the world of social media has grown, a platform has been created for athletes to engage with their fans, their competitors and their countries like never before. Recognizing this, Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium is giving fans the best Games experience possible in what is being considered the first ever "Socialympics."
“Our strategy from the start has been to actually meet the athletes one-on-one and talk to them about connecting with CTV Olympics as they travel around the world and compete and get closer to London 2012. A lot of the athletes have really made that connection with us, and when they’re anywhere in the world they’re tweeting updates,” said Monika Platek, the Consortium’s Social Media Lead for the London 2012 Olympic Games in an interview with CTV.ca.
Athletes Going Social
“The big difference since Vancouver is that a lot of athletes have embraced social media. More than ever we have been able to watch how their journeys towards London have developed… Come London, athletes are going to be expressing their reactions to what they’re going through,” said an enthusiastic Platek.
In the months leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, several prominent Canadian athletes took to Twitter to share their hardships and successes, including Olympic Champion triathalete Simon Whitfield and women’s boxing star Mary Spencer.
“Absolutely honored 2b flag bearer representing a team Canadians across the country can be proud of, what ever you do #giveyoureverything,” tweeted Whitfield after being named Canada’s flag bearer for the opening ceremonies. His name would soon become a trending topic across Canada.
“My first day in the gym was over 10 years ago. It was pouring rain as I waited for the bus after training, and I knew I wanted to be champ,” tweeted a humble and reflective Spencer after earning a wild-card spot to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Social Ambassador Program
Through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogging, Canadians are also being invited by the Consortium to take part in the perseverance, hardship, passion and triumph that will define the London 2012 Olympic Games. Viewers will be provided with a tapestry of vantage points, orchestrated by Social Ambassadors, whose sole responsibility will be to bring the Games closer to the fans than ever before.
“The Social Ambassador Project came out of the concept that these games are looked at as the ‘Socialympics’… we really want to be able to show Canadians these games from all sorts of different perspectives,” said Platek, who acknowledged the importance of offering coverage as diverse as the city of London itself.
Stationed at control rooms, venues and other imperative locations across London, the Social Ambassadors will be providing content to the Consortium’s social teams in Toronto and Montreal. In doing so, they will provide Canadians with a panoramic view of the Games, creating an experience as intimate as Vancouver from thousands of miles away.
Are you the ‘Ultimate Fan?’
This year, the Consortium has made a strong effort to give fans the opportunity to engage with one another through the “Ultimate Fan” game at CTVOlympics.ca.
By interacting with various aspects on the site, fans are able to earn rewards and collect points and badges.
“The ‘Ultimate Fan’ idea really snowballed out of the idea of really engaging Canadians in a competition and rewarding them for interacting with our stories, photos and videos at CTVOlympics.ca… It really has turned into an amazing thing,” said Platek.
Aside from the incredible opportunity to socialize and compete against fellow fans, there is the opportunity to win a grand prize like none other – an Air Canada sponsored trip to the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
There will also be daily prizes to be won by playing “A Passion to Win,” a Samsung sponsored game for viewers, fueled by trivia questions and Olympics predictions.
Bell Social Scene
In addition to being the Consortium’s Social Media Lead for the London 2012 Olympic Games, Platek will also serve as host of the Bell Social Scene, a live television broadcast that will aim to compile and deliver the best Olympics happenings from the world of social media.
“It’s a couple of times a day throughout the Games. There’s a really strong, on-air, in broadcast presence, and it’s not an afterthought, it’s very much at the forefront of our coverage. If an athlete reacts to something first on Twitter, or if we see an amazing photo that was captured by a fan of a moment we saw on our CTV cameras, that will be shown as well.
“Gold Medal moments will happen and traditionally we’d see them from the broadcast cameras, but now you’re actually going to be able to see them from millions of perspectives… We’re getting the same moment captured from so many smartphones, and combined it creates this really beautiful collage,” concluded Platek.
In an effort to create unparalleled bilingual coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games, an RDS Bell Social Scene will also be hosted by Valerie Sardin.
To learn more about the CTV Olympics, visit the official website.