With the Olympics Opening Ceremony taking place today, it is a good time to look at how the international organization is handling something near and dear to the marketing world - social media.
All organizations - big and small, public, private and non-profit, regardless of industry - are challenged not only with managing public opinion of their brand in the social media world, but also the way their teams, employees, partners and other affiliates represent themselves.
The Greek Olympic Committee's recent decision to expell an athlete is the latest and one of the most high profile examples of the issues many are facing when it comes to setting the 'rules of engagement' for those involved in an organization.
A little background: This past Wednesday, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled from the Games for Tweeting the following:
“With so many Africans in Greece... the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!!!”
According to The Guardian
, "The Greek Olympic Committee condemned the comment as 'contrary to the values and ideals of the Olympic movement.'" The decision - which cited The International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s "Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines for participants and other accredited persons at the London 2012 Olympics Games
" - also caught headlines for how quickly it was made.
Not only has this set a precedent for other athletes and future Olympic Games, but it can also serve as a reminder for any organization looking to stage a team event, or simply to communicate with their employees about appropriate rules of behavor.
Let's take a look at some key lessons:
- When dealing with your internal ambassadors (team members, partners, etc.), it's a whole different ball game than dealing with customers. Setting separate 'rules of engagement' and how you'll respond for each of these audiences will help reduce confusion down the road.
- Get everyone on board. The social media policy was handed down by the IOC - not it's communications team, its PR agency, or by individual countries or participants. Make sure you are all playing for the same team (no pun intended).
- Do it early, and be specific. By putting the rules out before an issue was raised - and having every Olympic hopeful commit to it - not only were the participants accountable, but the organization had a clear outline for its actions.
I'm sure there are many other lessons we can take here - and I am personally excited to see how the rest of the Games unfold and if anything else comes up. For those of you keeping up with the games online, be sure to follow these handles:
- @London2012 (the official handle for the Games)
- @NBCOlympics (your go-to network for news
- @USOlympic – Manned by the U.S. Olympic committee.
- @RyanLochte – Just because it's fun.