Will Olympics Inspire a Social Generation?

Social Media OlympicsLondon 2012, which kicks off this Friday, will arguably be the first Games where it will be possible to keep up to date on who’s winning and losing, and who’s on the podium, as it happens, without actually watching any of it – the first ‘social media’ games. If you’re following the right people on Twitter or specific pages on Facebook or Google+, you’ll be up to date on the action.

The volume of tweets is increasing all the time, and the continued sophistication of smartphones encourages broadcasting and connection on the move. At Ipsos MORI we know that nearly as many Twitter users are accessing the site on their mobile than on a more traditional device, such as a PC or laptop, in GB (65% vs. 68%) (Source: Ipsos MediaCT TechTracker). This isn’t altogether surprising. The key to Twitter is the spontaneity of it, the immediacy with which opinions can be shared. Smartphones fit this requirement perfectly.

Though there were tweets at the Beijing Games, social media was certainly more niche than it is now. When athletes began arriving in London last week, it wasn’t long before stories emerged from social media sites about buses getting lost and cold athletes. There isn’t much that London 2012 organisers can do about the British summer, but they will be hoping that transport problems can be avoided, as there is certainly less scope to hide from problems when so many of the athletes, never mind the spectators, are potential newscasters.

It’s certainly exciting though to think of social media mapping the Games, from Greenwich to Wembley, thousands of mobiles across London will be broadcasting and following the action simultaneously. A constant stream of live information around the events will be supplemented with photos shared amongst friends.

The London 2012 tagline is Inspire a Generation – the generation that we hope will be inspired are increasingly seeing constant connectivity as the norm. For a live event of the scale of the Olympic Games, this may be seen as the moment when following the action changed completely in terms of its interactivity.