In a move which might be described as a foregone conclusion, NBC has tapped Twitter to be, well, Twitter for the Olympic games in London. That is, NBC is making Twitter the “official narrator” for the games, according to the Wall Street Journal, which includes tracking Olympics-related tweets and putting the spotlight on tweets from athletes, sports reporters, and of course a multitude of loyal fans around the world.
According to the WSJ, Twitter is sending a staffer to serve as liaison with the NBC social media team in London, to make sure news and other content appears in a timely fashion. Presumably, Twitter will also bring some pretty powerful analytics to bear on millions of Twitter accounts to dig up interesting conversations and measure trending sentiment around individual athletes, events, and so on. Meanwhile, NBC will promote the Twitter Olympics hub during the games with televised messages showing the #Olympics hashtag, and links to athlete interviews and other online video.
Calling Twitter the “official narrator” is an interesting choice of words, considering that Twitter really isn’t much good for what I would call real “narration” of events: most of its ability to “narrate” anything comes from pointing readers to more in-depth reports posted elsewhere on the Web. It will be more important as a forum for fans to share their collective jubilation (or disappointment). But that’s a minor quibble.
As noted in previous columns, the 2012 Summer Olympics have the most comprehensive social media strategy of any Olympics to date. That includes detailed guidelines dictating what athletes and volunteers can and cannot say on social media. Athletes are being encouraged to “post, blog and tweet their experiences” during the games, but they won't be allowed to use social media, including Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs, for advertising, selling products, or sharing videos from the Olympic venues.
To help athletes engage fans with social media, in April the International Olympic Committee unveiled the Olympic Athletes' Hub, a social media destination which aggregates social media feeds from more than 1,000 Olympic athletes, including real-time updates of content from their Facebook and Twitter accounts; the site will also host online chats with athletes.