2012 Olympic Games’ Social Media Guidelines: Has The IOC Taken it Too Far?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has set forth strict social media rules and guidelines not just for the athletes of the upcoming Olympic games but for the spectators as well!
In hopes of preventing both controversial posts and ticking off their official sponsors, such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, the IOC has set forth a four page policy that is both too restrictive and self-opposing.
Some of the
guidelines restrictions include:
- Athletes are restricted to tweeting in the first person in a diary-type format
- Athletes are not permitted to post about the games as they happen, or comment on the activities of other participants
- No videos are allowed to be shared from the Olympic village
- Athletes must obtain permission before posting photos of other athletes
- Participants are not to use the official Olympic symbol (the five interlaced rings) on any posts or images of any kind
- Participants are only permitted to use the word “Olympic” within their social channels, blogs or other, if and only if they do not use the word in association with any third party person, product or service
As for spectators, they are permitted to take and post pictures to their hearts’ content, and though they are permitted to take video footage, they are forbidden to post any such videos to any social media channels.
Talk about a long list of restrictions – and I gave you the short version!
So what’s wrong with all of these “guidelines”?
Though it is understandable that the IOC is attempting to limit the promotion of brands that are not official Olympics sponsors, they’re taking it too far. Not allowing athletes to tweet or share “behind the scenes” footage and experiences with their fans, not to mention not even permitting them to post about the games as they happen, is limiting to both the athletes and their fans.
An athlete is a personal brand and one of their most strategic marketing strategies is and should be social media. Connecting and engaging with their fans, sharing their exciting Olympic experiences and generating hype and excitement around the games themselves is all a part of the social fun – and, as I’ve said, plays a major role in their own self-promotion and creating awareness for their sport. Not to mention it would be extremely beneficial for the Olympic games themselves, which in-turn would benefit the IOC.
What do the athletes have to say?
“The IOC and NBC are running their business and doing what they can do make their business as profitable as it can be. As athletes, this is us running our business. They’re taking away from that, but it goes both ways.” – Ricky Berens, American swimmer told Mashable
“Why would you want to handicap a form of media that only increases exposure for your event? If you’re trying to make these the most watched Games in the history of the world, why would you take the people responsible for that history and say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that, you can’t share’? Limiting it seems so stupid.” – American Sprinter, Nick Symmonds told Mashable
Canadian marathoner Dylan Wykes told The Globe and Mail that “I find the IOC rules a bit bewildering [...] I would’ve thought that these Games would offer a perfect opportunity for the IOC to work with the athletes to enhance exposure for the Olympic brand and each athlete’s ‘brand’ or profile through the use of social media and Twitter. I’ve never really received a clear explanation for the restrictions.”
“The IOC rules seem a little too strict and I think in future years we will look back and laugh at how strict they were,” said Canadian marathoner, Reid Coolsaet, to The Globe and Mail.
What do the fans think of these limiting guidelines?
What do you think of the social media guidelines set forth by the IOC?
Do you find these guidelines to be too strict and limiting, or do you think and agree that they’re in the better interest of the Olympic games? As a fan and spectator of the games, would you have enjoyed to receive “behind the scenes” exclusive coverage from your favorite athlete? I invite you to share your thoughts, disappointments or approvals with me below!
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about this strict policy, what the IOC could have done differently and what, as crisis managers we recommend, tune-in to The Crisis Show tonight at 7pm!
first of all – thank you for another great post!
I really think that the IOC has gone “off-track” with their very restrictive policy ["Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines for participantsand other accredited persons"].
I will go into detail, but I think we first need to clarify to whom this policy is adressed by IOC. In the introduction of the policy is stated: “These guidelines apply to participants and other accredited persons during the Period of the Olympic Games”. From my perspective this does not include spectators because they are just buying a ticket and not getting accredited for an event. However it clearly adresses athletes, officials, accredited media and all olympic volunteers.
Also, it would be completely illusive if IOC would aim at regulationg/controlling the spectator’s social media behavior! Let’s face it: we are talking about millions of spectators that will join the different Olympic events in London in the next weeks. To monitor all online content during the Olympic Games and enforce the social media policy would simply require way too many resources.
Back to the policy. IOC has an obvious interest to prevent athletes and other accredited persons from using social media during the Olympic games for commercial / advertising purposes. The offical sponsors pay huge sums for exclusive sponsorships and the same goes for the media, broadcasting from London to all over the world. We need to accept: the most important sport event of the year has long become big business too!
While it feels legitimate for the IOC to protect their “privileged partners” it really seems odd to try regulating the social media behavior of athletes and volunteers in such a strict manner. I think it would have been much smarter if the IOC would have published an informative guideline document (or even better a short YouTube video) with hints for social media use at the Olympic Games. Here is an example I like. It is a social media guideline presented in form of a YouTube video by Tchibo, a German chain of coffee shops and cafés. It is in German language, but you do not need to know German to understand this! LINK: http://bit.ly/NU4t2d
Finally, I completely agree with your judgement, Melissa, that it would be extremely beneficial for the Olympic games themselves to leverage the athlete’s own self-promotion efforts (via social media).
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, Melissa. I am always enjoying your posts!
First and foremost, thank you for the nice compliment!
As for my stating that it is for spectators as well, I put that in because they do have a piece that says spectators are allowed to take video footage, but not allowed to share it online. To me, that is a restriction directed to the public, so I included it in there as such.
However, even though they stated it, I seriously doubt that they will monitor for it.
As for your comments on the policy, I agree 100% with you! A social media policy is very important – but it is also important that it not be restrictive. I have another piece coming tomorrow on what they should have done with their policy, and what other companies and organizations should keep in mind with their own policy. I think you will find that piece in-line with what you have said here today! … You know what they say about great minds!
Thanks for sharing that link too, Tobias! I will go and check it out – always great to have good examples of jobs well done as well!
Thanks, once again, for sharing your thoughts with me!
Have a great evening,