Social in Sochi

We’ve recovered from the holidays and are finally starting to thaw from the coldest days in Houston in years. With much of the country still cloaked in the snow and ice the polar vortex dumped on it, the cooler temperatures have us thinking about the winter Olympics.

Back in November, it was rumored that the Russian news agency, R-Sport, would strip reporters of their Olympic credentials if caught using a smartphone to document any of the winter games, calling it a “serious violation”.

Seems a bit overkill to us. As it turns out, upon further review of the head of R-Sport’s comments, it was found that he was misunderstood – the International Olympic Committee clarified the comment, saying that photo sharing on social media platforms is encouraged, and that journalists should take and post as many photos as they want.

But let’s back up for a moment to the point when everyone thought they could have their credentials revoked by using a smartphone. In an Olympic games littered with controversy, what implications would this have? How would a lack of social media engagement affect the Sochi games?

If things go at all like they did at the London games, social media will have a huge impact this year as well. According to Fast Company, the 16-day time period during the 2012 summer Olympics resulted in over 150 million tweets, and the 11 largest sponsors paid over one billion dollars in social media-focused marketing.

Athletes themselves saw incredible social media results, with explosions in Facebook numbers and tweets, allowing them to engage with their fans in a positive way. Usain Bolt’s track win resulted in 80,000 tweets per minute, for example.

Viewers were also quick to voice their opinions when it came to Olympic-focused social media. When NBC refused to show the Opening Ceremonies live, viewers launched a Twitter protest.

Social media has become an essential part of the Olympic games, and stripping reporters of their credentials and ability to share their experiences and athlete stories with audiences over social media would be a huge mistake for the Sochi games. After all, the “Stuff Ryan Lochte Says” tumblr, and all social accounts associated with the swimmer, was one of the funniest things to happen to the Olympics.

What events are you most excited to watch during the Olympics? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!