The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is using all the best practices of social media that marketers keep hearing about (here included).
First, it knows there will be an enormous about of social conversation about its brand (the London 2012 Summer Olympics) and it wants to host the conversation. It does so on the Olympic Athletes' Hub, an online destination that aggregate Twitter and Facebook streams from Olympic athletes, past and present. The Athletes’ Hub has already compiled Twitter and Facebook feeds of over 2,000 verified Olympians.
It Connects One-On-One With Fan/Customers
Fans get to talk one-on-one with athletes through the “Inside The Olympic Village” page on the hub. US swimmer Ryan Lochte took to Twitter to offer to personally call up one of his most loyal of fans for a chat. Lochte (who was recently voted ESPN’s "most awesome body in sport") tweeted "I am going to randomly choose someone to call. I think I need some fan support today to keep me going!!!" then "You guys are great. HMMMM who am I going to call?????" He settled upon one fan who tweeted/gushed "It was so amazing i can't even explain it [sic]."
It Protects The Value, Quality Of Its Content The IOC has put a cap on athletes on social media for the duration of the games. The IOC social media head Alex Huot told PaidContent’s Robert Andrews that athletes were given guidelines for social sharing, and during the event, they are expected to use the Hub, rather than to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so forth.
It protects the quality of the content as well. Fans need not trouble themselves with screen caps off of their computers, or waiting to repost/steal a photo from CNN. "Faces of Olympians" is a collaboration between the IOC and Instagram that showcases a collection of athlete photos taken throughout the London Games. The IOC claims to have generated more than 30,000 followers on Instagram in only 60 days.
Meet Customers Where They Want To Be
The IOC is giving one subset of its fans just the content it wants—a social game called "The Olympic Challenge," allowing them to compete in predicting the outcome of various Olympic events. Sports fans are fond of competing in fantasy leagues and predictions, and the NFL and Major League Baseball similarly host games and leaderboards. The Olympic Challenge is integrated with Facebook and the Open Graph, so Facebook users can share predictions and brag about the right ones.
Huot admitted to Paid Content that, yeah, the media might be alarmed that the IOC is becoming a broadcaster of a sort. But he went on to say there is room in social media for everyone, and that it is up for grabs. Olympics fans will rehash the games for months to come, and as it is, the IOC is cleverly positioning itself to capture the fanbase/customers and keep them.