John Monks, head of social business design, LBi
Alex Balfour, LOCOG’s head of new media, recently claimed the London Olympics were unprepared for the scale of mobile and they’d failed in harnessing any scale in Foursquare and Facebook check-ins.
He also warned Rio to sort out its strategy in this area quickly, with 60% of this year’s Games content accessed via mobile devices.
In November, LOCOG will be in Rio, host to the 2016 games, to share lessons learned and it would be great if they spend time on the topic of digital, social and mobile – which are increasingly one and the same.
There are many lessons to learn from London. The first I’d choose would be to define a vision that includes these technologies at the heart of the way that the Olympics sees itself.
London 2012 was a long way from that only three months before the opening ceremony, during a media storm where it appeared that posting photos of the Olympics to the internet would be banned, the deputy chairman of LOCOG said, “We live in an internet world… and there’s not much we can do about it.”
Rio can start now, by recruiting people to develop a strategy that treats the internet as a massive opportunity rather than a threat.
The next step would be to partner with organisations that can make a compelling vision of a socially-activated Rio 2016. This means developing structural ways for businesses to skill up and excel in the world of social. We use the term “social business design” to describe this.
It’s about more than just developing mobile apps or social media campaigns; it’s about taking a structured but innovative approach to finding ways for people to have a meaningful relationship with Rio 2016.
The Olympics has such enormous meaning for so many people, it’s a brand in a position to tap the energy of millions of people – and for free!
I can imagine the possibility of getting huge numbers of people involved in creating ideas and solving problems. Rio should be looking to partners and agencies that have social in their blood. If they hear the words “social campaign” from a possible partner, they should move on quickly.
Social is not about shouting messages at people, it’s about giving them a means and reasons to engage.
A final word of advice would be to find ways to be agile and innovative. LOCOG probably could have seen mobile coming soon enough to have apps ready earlier than they did but the world of tech moves so fast that to be successful Rio will have to be prepared for the unexpected. This will mean embracing new ways of thinking and relating to their audiences.
The scale of opportunity in Rio is enormous. To use an example of another major, but much smaller, event as a comparison, if London 2012 had the same ratio of Foursquare check-ins to visitors as the 2012 Superbowl (33%) then it would have had 2.9m rather than the 150,000 it actually achieved.
There aren’t many things that truly connect the whole world, but the Olympics and the internet are two. The Olympics is the greatest show on earth and Rio now has the opportunity to be the first games to truly use technology to allow the whole world to take part.