Olympics committee gets its social media game on with Tumblr, Instagram integration

The International Olympic Committee is pushing out a slew of social network projects for London 2012, as it counters criticism of its social media guidelines. Here’s what fans are about to get from the tournament organiser:

» Athletes Hub: Already launched, the IOC’s site aggregates 2,000 authenticated Olympians’ Twitter and Facebook updates. Users gain badges for following athletes. “We’ll have 5,000, 6,000 or 7,000 athletes,” IOC communications director Mark Adams said during a Wednesday media briefing at the Olympic Park’s Team GB headquarters. “We’ve brought 30,000 more followers for some athletes through these tools already.”

» Live from the Village: The IOC’s online team plans to rope athletes in to online Q&As with fans between events.

» Olympic Challenge: Launching early next week using Facebook’s open graph, this game will award points to users who predict medals and event outcomes.

» Instagram: IOC social media manager Alex Huot: “We got a lot of love from the Instagram community, so we’re going to give a lot of love to Instagram. We posted this photo from the village, it became popular on Instagram. I compared ‘likes’ with other platforms – it was massive (6,021) – to get a number like that says the user community is really engaged. The account right now is on fire (29,000 followers). Four hundred Olympians are on Instagram.”

» Tumblr: Four official pages are coming – olympics.tumblr.com, aggregating existing feeds; Faces Of Olympians, in which fans pull “Olympian” faces”; Olympic Fashion, all about clothing; and, perhaps most interestingly, Olympic Moments, to which Getty Images is gifting Olympic photos. “No money changing hands for this,” Adams said. “They (Getty) actually wanted us to take their photos and share them, they’re very relaxed.” Huot: “We really want it to be all about the photo – the idea is to keep it super simple.”

» Foursquare: Huot: “If you check in to a venue, you’ll unlock a badge, you’ll get an email with a link – it will be a ticket giveaway – we’ll give away two tickets every day.”

» Google+: The IOC claims over 1.6 million followers for Olympics family pages.

The new project announcements, which are due on Thursday morning, follow recent criticism that the IOC’s social media guidelines for athletes and attendees are draconian. They disallow online distribution of photos taken at Olympic venues; video uploads are more stringently barred. Some social media geeks had rounded on the IOC, which now finds itself trying to explain things…

At the IOC’s Wednesday briefing, British archer Alison Williamson (@archeryalison) – appearing at her sixth Olympics – told paidContent:

“It’s just common sense. You’re not going to take a photo of someone without permission and then tweet it. Everyone’s pretty clear on what we can say and we stick with that.”

Sprinter Oscar Pistorius, speaking via Skype, said he had not yet perused the guidelines but would do so whilst preparing for competition. Team GB, which has given its competitors social media training, has nevertheless had to warn some athletes for tweets which included references to personal sponsors and for one which may have offended some homosexuals.

IOC communications director Mark Adams:

“If you’re not commercialising it, thats fine – if someone’s trying to make money out of the rings or brand, that’s not allowed.

“We’re not going to be sitting there day and night, looking through every tweet. It’s about egregious breaches, ambush marketing, that’s where the rub comes and we would take action. But, if it’s auntie Mable posting a picture, that’s fine.”The Int

In fact, the guidelines have been largely unchanged through recent Olympics tournaments.

If tweeting athletes do not heed the guidelines, the IOC could find itself re-posting offending updates through its own Athletes Hub. But staff will monitor athletes’ updates and will remove any transgressive material from the hub, Adams said:

“We will post-moderate stuff. We won’t remove anything from Facbeook or Twitter. We’re giving you a snapshot. If there was something that broke the charter, we would take action.”