The term Social Media Olympics has been bandied about relentlessly over recent months, with countless statistics backing up the fact that London 2012 will be the most digitally connected Olympics of all time. Great news then for official sponsors and partners, who have spent millions officially associating themselves with the games... Or so you'd think.
The global Olympic audience have an unquenchable thirst for information on the games. In the past week for example,#London2012, #Olympics and #TorchRelay have been trending on Twitter almost non-stop. Some 780,000 people are now fans of the official London 2012 Facebook page, 266,000 of which are talking about it. That represents a 34.1% Rate of Engagement, comfortably the highest RoE for any Facebook page with over 100,000 Likes. This figure is substantiated by a YouGov report stating that on the day the Torch was collected, the word "Olympics" reached 39% of Twitter's UK users via the accounts they were following. On peak days, some 70% of users were exposed to Olympics references via their news feeds.
Now we understand the unparalleled reach of the Social Media Olympics, we start to understand just how vast and accessible the audience is. Nathan Homer, Olympic Project Director at Procter & Gamble (P & G) summed it up when he said that "these will be the most social Games by a long way. It will make a dramatic difference to the way people experience the Games."
Given that statement and the above statistics, you would assume that P & G have inexorably capitalized on their Official Partner status via social media, wouldn't you? Well, you know what they say about assumptions. P & G, much like the majority of sponsors, have made little to no reference to the Olympics via their various social media presences. There are only five brands, in fact, for which Olympic-related words are in the top five related topics posted via social media since early May 2012. Those companies sensibly aligning themselves with the "most social Games by a long way" include McDonald's, British Airways, Visa and Omega. Official sponsors who have failed to get aboard the bandwagon include BP, Coca-Cola, Adidas, BT and of course, Procter & Gamble.
If a brand is associated with the Olympics, particularly through partnership or sponsorship, perception and awareness of said brand will unquestionably be improved. So the question is why would globally successful companies with dedicated social media departments fail recognize this and get involved? The mind boggles.
Social media conversations will account for a huge part in how consumers around the world will experience London 2012. With that said, it seems as though brands are struggling (or forgetting) to jostle their way into position, in order to be heard on social media networks. Assuming the Games go off without a hitch, positive association for partners, sponsors and everyone in-between should come naturally. I can't help but think though, that a number of brands have really missed a trick when it comes to leveraging their costly ties to the event.