Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: How Social Media Took Sochi by Storm

While the 2012 Olympic Games in London were known as the “Twitter Olympics,” we are witnessing social media’s popularity now more than ever during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Fans of the Olympics, as well as athletes and attendees of the games, have taken to social media to share their thoughts, feelings and imagery from Sochi. From accounts dedicated to complaints about the state of Sochi to posts honoring medal-earning wins by Team USA, social media has been a major tool in communicating the happenings from the games. With real-time communication abilities, the platforms have been able to keep the global community connected throughout the games.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post – an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we look at all things social media from the Sochi Olympics. Social media statistics from Sochi, why @SochiProblems is #winning, how athletes are benefiting from the “viral games” and why major sponsors aren’t participating in Sochi social media are all covered in this week’s post. We also look at the most popular images posted to Twitter (so far) from the 2014 Olympics.

Who’s Winning Sochi Social Gold? (Social Media Today)

Social media has played a huge role in the 2014 Winter Olympics, from the tweets airing grievances about the host city to real-time posts during the Opening Ceremony and during the actual sporting events. This article highlights social media trends from the Opening Ceremony, Friday Five Logooverall sentiment of mentions, the top three issues being discussed and more through a #SochiSocial infographic created by UberVU and Hootsuite.

Topics of the statistics include: “top locations discussing the Opening Ceremonies,” “sentiment for the Opening Ceremonies” and “Olympics #FAIL.” The infographic also ranked the top three issues being discussed based on the number of mentions. The most talked about issue, “Russia’s stance on homosexuality,” is followed by “extermination of stray dogs” and “security concerns.” View the infographic and all of the statistics via the article and get daily #SochiSocial infographics here.

‘Sochi Problems’ a Twitter Hit as Olympic Schadenfreude Grows (Mashable)

Politics aside, the Russian town of Sochi has been experiencing its own bad publicity. When journalists arrived at the host city, they took to social media to share complaints about a variety of issues, spanning from “dilapidated hotel rooms still under construction” to “water that contains ‘something very dangerous.’” The number of complaints reached so many users, it inspired the creation of the Twitter parody account, @SochiProblems.

According to the article, the “premise [of the account] is simple — aggregate and retweet photos showing Sochi’s bad side. The content is sometimes sad and disturbing. It’s often funny, in a dark sort of way. It’s almost always a hit.” Despite the somewhat negative nature of the account, it has no shortage of followers. As of February 11, the account, with more than 342,000 followers, surpassed the number of followers of the official @Sochi2014 account. Visit the article for highlights from @SochiProblems.

If London was Twitter Olympics, call Sochi the Viral Games (USA Today)

People from all over the world have been actively engaging in the 2014 Olympic events through social media, and the competing Olympic athletes are able to benefit from the viral nature of the platform. The author of the article explains, “From the start, the Sochi Olympics have been about engagement on social media, with athletes using crowd-funding to support their dreams.” Athletes competing in the Olympics already receive recognition by performing on the “biggest stage in the world.” However the social media activity surrounding the games can bring added attention to the athletes.

Athletes have been experiencing an influx of followers after medal-earning wins, and with that attention, they can attract sponsors. The athletes are also garnering attention in other, less serious ways. After bobsledder Johnny Quinn punched his way through a stuck, locked bathroom door and later that day was stuck in an elevator, Quinn and his teammates took to Twitter to share photos from the incidents. The images immediately went viral, and seemingly put Quinn on the map. For more about the athletes’ experiences at the “Viral Games,” visit the article.

For Coke And McDonald’s, Ignoring The Power Of Social Media To Disrupt Means No Medals In Sochi (Forbes)

Despite the large role that social media platforms are playing in the 2014 Olympics, some major sponsors aren’t participating in the action. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa, Procter & Gamble and other major sponsors of the games have been receiving negative backlash from gay rights activists due to the anti-gay laws in the host country. In protest, the activists used McDonald’s hashtag #CheersSochi to communicate their disapproval with the chain, and forced Coke to shut down a “name and message generator website,” which, according to  the article, “would not accept the word ‘Gay,’  but did accept the word ‘Straight’ on personalized virtual cans that can be shared with friends on Facebook.”

It seems that the brands were unprepared for the backlash and the protests of their sponsorship, based on responses on social media. At first the brands attempted to “fight off the activists” but they soon retreated, and have remained relatively quiet on social media and have made significant cutbacks on their marketing efforts. “What makes a backlash against the Sochi sponsors so dangerous to the reputation of the sponsoring companies is that social media controversy tends to be amplified into established media,” the author explains. For more about the protests on social media, visit the article.

Twitter Highlights the Top-Tweeted Olympic Photos From Sochi (Mashable)

Social media has been abuzz during the 2014 Olympics, and one of the most popular platforms has been Twitter. Twitter has been promoting memorable moments from Sochi through “an interactive photo collage depicting the top-tweeted photos from each day of this year’s games.” The article explains how the platform determines the most popular images and how they are complied into a collage. While the platform doesn’t highlight the most popular tweets from every country, it does include popular international images on a global list.

Currently, the most popular image from the 2014 Olympics is of Team USA during Opening Ceremony and was tweeted by ESPN. Other popular photos include posts by Sports Center featuring American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg with his gold medal and Olympic-themed images posted by Visa. Visit the article to view more popular Twitter photos from Sochi.

Faith Goumas is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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