SXSW: Social Media + the Olympic Spirit

March  21,  2012 / By Taylor Blog

London will be the biggest social media sports event in history. There has been a fundamental shift in how we consume information since four years ago in Vancouver. Mass adoption of social media, the emergence of second and third screens, as well as the recent International Olympic Committee policy changes for athletes indicates that the online conversation will be bigger than it ever has been before. Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Usain Bolt are already seeing social media growth and support, doing what they digitally can in order to be the “face of the games.”

However one of the clear takeaways coming out of the Olympic-focused panels at SXSW 2012 was that while social media certainly helps the publicity of Phelps and the other breakout heroes, perhaps more importantly it also gives digital life to the Olympic athletes who will never get anywhere near an Olympic medal.

Social media is more than just another brand communication channel, it’s more important than an additional customer service platform – social media allows brands to develop an actual personality. Especially with Facebook’s launch of Timeline for Brands, a company is no longer just a supplier of products/services. A company is now something we can relate to, something we believe in, something we understand – or completely shut out for reasons completely unrelated to their products/services. These Olympic athletes have the same opportunity to develop an online story that will give fans exactly what they want come Olympic time:  someone to cheer for.

Marrying the opportunities of social media and the spirit of the Olympics truly is the perfect storm for the non-Phelps.

This month Samsung will take advantage of that equation by introducing the Genome Project, a Facebook app that builds a “family tree” to show users how they are connected to past, present and future Olympic athletes. This program will taps into our Olympic-driven sense of community, but more importantly will build a completely customized reason to believe in the games that is both meaningful and relevant.  Watch this video to see Samsung’s Matt Moller explain more about the Genome Project.

I’m personally very anxious to confirm that the high-school-looking 11-year-old girl who consistently beat me in the pool is in fact representing the USA this summer.  And despite my second place ribbons, I’ll be cheering for her.

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