Join the Olympic Social Media Club!
Today’s young people have never known life without the internet. They have grown up with a mouse in their hands and the world wide web at their fingertips. In fact, the internet has become such a huge part of their everyday lives that recent figures indicated that the average teen spends as much as 31 hours per week online. It’s little wonder that the IOC is using digital media more and more as a way to engage with young people and encourage them to be more active when it comes to the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
Indeed, with over 1.7 million young fans on the IOC’s social-networking site Facebook, and thousands more followers on micro-blogging site Twitter, the Olympic Games has already taken the social media world by storm – and now the Youth Olympic Games is doing the same.
February saw the launch of the YOG’s very own Facebook and Twitter pages, with both attracting more and more followers each day, enabling young people to keep up-to-date with all the latest news, videos, photos and events in the build-up to Singapore 2010. The Youth Olympic Games also features on the IOC’s digital platforms, which will provide on-line coverage of the Games-time action.
The IOC has made “Expression through digital media” one of the five educational themes of the Culture and Education Programme at the Youth Olympic Games, and has launched a number of social and digital media initiatives.
As well as Facebook and Twitter, the IOC has launched an innovative YOG micro-site, known as the “Cube”. This dynamic platform, which incorporates the new YOG-DNA visual identity, features the latest news about the Youth Olympic Games, the sport and culture and education programmes. This platform also provides links to exciting initiatives such as the Best of Us Challenge and Medal Design Competition, which have both enjoyed huge success.
The Best of Us Challenge, which forms part of the IOC’s Best of Us campaign, has proved particularly popular – attracting over 3.5 million views on YouTube, as users attempt to beat sporting challenges that have been set by current and past Olympians, including YOG Ambassadors Michael Phelps and Yelena Isinbayeva. The prizes on offer include memorabilia signed by Olympians and a trip for two to Singapore for the inaugural YOG. The Medal Design Competition, meanwhile, offered members of the public the once-in-a-lifetime chance to design the medals for Singapore 2010.
The contest attracted entries from more than 34 countries, with all the designs posted online, allowing internet users to vote for their favourites. The 10 designs that received the most public votes were then presented to an IOC jury, who selected the winner.
Another aspect of the Cube is the Participants section, which allows YOG athletes, Young Ambassadors and Young Reporters to upload their own personal profiles and videos.
“Of course, we want the best athletes to come to Singapore, but we want them to do more than just compete,” explains Gilbert Felli, IOC Executive Director of Olympic Games. “We also want to encourage interactivity between the kids who are competing and those watching at home – the web provides a fantastic platform to make this possible.”
This unique platform is something that could really enrich the YOG experience, according to Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes.
“Sport should be something that unites people,” she says. “If you can help young people communicate with each other then they’re going to have a better experience when they actually get to the Games. It’s possible that some of these people will be competing against each other all the way through until they’re seniors, and I think it’s always good to have a friendly rivalry. At the end of the day, rivalry should be left on the track. I think it’s a great way for young people to open their minds, being perceptive of people from other cultures and not having any barriers.”
The Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC) has also been complementing the IOC’s efforts in using digital media to connect with young people by launching a number of exciting programmes. The Million Deeds Challenge, for example, invited members of the public to share examples of when their actions had embodied the Olympic values of excellence, friendship or respect. Each contribution on the Million Deeds Challenge website helped move a virtual Olympic Flame a step closer on its journey from Greece to Singapore.
SYOGOC has also created an online virtual world, Singapore 2010 Odyssey, which enables kids around the world to learn more about sport, culture, the Olympic values and Singapore 2010. Users can interact with each other in the 3D virtual world, and even explore the venues in which the action will take place in August.
Other initiatives include the WhyOhGee micro-site, which features content developed by young people, such as blogs, photos and videos. Even the Singapore mascots – Lyo and Merly – are getting in on the act, with their own personal Facebook page, where videos and photos are posted to show their fans what events they’ve been attending in
the build-up to Singapore 2010.
The Games themselves will have digital media at their core. Each athlete will be given a handheld device called a “Digital Concierge”, supplied by Worldwide TOP Partner Samsung, which will keep them up-to-date with the latest competition information, as well as providing updates from venues and the Olympic Village.
Other TOP Partners are also supporting these efforts, with Acer supplying Young Ambassadors and Young Reporters with a limited edition Olympic laptop so that they can share their experiences with the world, and Panasonic offering digital cameras to all Young Reporters to help tell their stories from the Games.
With so many ways to interact and engage, the first YOG look set to be a milestone in the IOC’s history as it embraces digital media like never before. So what are you waiting for? Point your browser at the “Cube” and get involved!