Tag Archives: Twitter

Olympic Athletes and Social Media

Social media is here to stay. And, to paraphrase tag line from a heavily-advertised financial services company, social media is “everywhere you want to be” – even at the Olympic Games. With more than 10,500 athletes (most of whom are younger than the IOC leaders) from 204 countries, there is a lot of social networking communication going on at the Games, and around the world.

In order to promote and protect the official sponsors of the London Olympics, the International Olympic Organization prohibits athletes from appearing in advertising shortly before and during the Olympic Games. The IOC’s ‘Rule 40’ also prohibits the use of social media for promoting non-Olympic sponsors. However,  Rule 40 does not apply to athletes who have endorsement deals with the official sponsors (such as Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s, etc.). If the lucky athlete has an official Games sponsor, then they can promote the company freely in their tweets and Facebook updates. For everyone else, the ban is in place. The IOC has gone as far as requiring athletes who have posted about non-sponsors to delete the postings.

Athletes and reporters have been speaking out against Rule 40, arguing that the rule benefits the investors of the Olympics, but does not protect or benefit the athletes who are competing. Athletes have argued that during the highly viewed Olympics – which is one of the few viewing opportunities for the non-mainstream sports – the ban reduces the athlete’s value to their sponsors, making it difficult to thank and promote the companies that have helped the athletes in their Olympic journey.

To help make the point about the ways in which Rule 40 impose limitations on the athletes, they started a campaign to get the rule rescinded at #WeDemandChange. One athlete competing in the 100-meter hurdles, Dawn Harper, has gone so far as to tweet photos with “Rule 40” tape applied over the brand names on her hairdryer, and her own mouth. For the U.S. athletes who rely heavily on sponsorships, the rule has limited their opportunity to gain needed funding.


Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

1.      Divide students into groups and have them discuss the pros and cons for the IOC’s Rule 40.
2.      Why did the IOC implement this rule?
3.      What are implications for the athletes and their sponsors?
4.      Have students research how the athletes are supporting or opposing this rule on Twitter.
5.      What have the posts been at #WeDemandChange?
6.      In groups, have students develop an alternative to Rule 40. Is there a middle ground that protects both the Olympic Games and the athletes?

Source:  Ad Age Digital, 7/31/12

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Tweets worth noticing


With more than 250 million tweets per day, Twitter is the leading source for online communication. On average, there are 3,000 tweets generated every second. There is no doubt that for companies that want to connect with their customers, Twitter represents a great channel. But with the 250 million daily tweets, how can companies get their tweets noticed, and re-tweeted?

The strongest factor for getting attention is the source of the tweet. A strongly valued source, and quality messages, trump emotion any day. A new study from UCLA and Hewlett-Packard researched four factors and their influence on optimizing tweeted headlines and new links.

  1. The credibility of the news source generating the article
  2. The category of news the article falls under (ex: health, sports, technology)
  3. The subjectivity of the language in the article
  4. Famous people, brans, or other notable entries mentioned

The most frequently posted links were for news about technology, followed by news about health. While news about health had a lower number of published links, it had higher rates of tweets per link. Researchers also found that calm, objective language had the highest number of re-tweets; emotional language does not improve the value or the re-tweet levels.

The lesson for marketers using social media such as Twitter is similar to that of other promotional tactics – be calm, show value, be credible and trustworthy and your message will be noted.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Ask students what factors they look for when following or re-tweeting. Why are these factors import?
  2. Next, show the results of this new study about optimizing tweets and the four main categories: (1) Credibility of news source, (2) category of news, (3) subjectivity of language, and (4) famous people or brands mentioned.
  3. How do the students’ factors fit into the four categories? Are there any additional categories that might be useful?
  4. Divide students into groups. Have the groups identify the top categories that most interest them.
  5. Compare the students’ results on categories with the study’s categories: technology, health, and fun stuff.
  6. In teams, have students select a company they might follow and write three tweets for the company.
  7. Discuss the tweets and how these fit the categories from the study.

Source:  Brandchannel.com, 6/13/12

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