Social Media Lessons from the Olympics

Lori Halley 07 August 2012 2 comments

The Olympics offer so much inspiration, as we saw recently in the Nonprofit Blog Carnival round-up Lessons From the Olympics.  But  while I've already seen some exciting gold medal moments and great team spirit this year,  I'm beginning to wonder if the 2012 Summer Games might end up being remembered for the many Olympics-sized social media blunders.

"The bursts of Twitter activity are like gamma rays escaping from a solar flare"

As Barbara Ortutay suggests in her Associated Press article, “For better and for worse, the 2012 Olympics are being shaped, shaken and indisputably changed by a social media revolution that four years ago in Beijing was in its toddlerhood.”

The article offers a partial list of the social media that has captured the world’s attention. Ortutay notes, with just “four days into the games, we've already seen...

  • an athletes' Twitter campaign objecting to sponsorship restrictions that went viral under the hashtag "WeDemandChange."
  • a TV viewers uprising over Olympic broadcaster NBC's decision not to live stream the opening ceremony.
  • two athletes kicked out for racist tweets.
  • a fan arrested Tuesday after a series of threatening posts, including one in which he vowed to drown a British diver, and another in which he told the athlete he had failed his dead father by not winning.

The article goes on to say:

For Olympics organizers who pride themselves on putting on a carefully choreographed — obsessively controlled, some would say — 17-day show, the bursts of Twitter activity are like gamma rays escaping from a solar flare. They're impossible to stop and spellbinding to behold.

How does this relate to your organization?

These news stories are cautionary tales for organizations - like non-profits, associations, clubs and other membership groups - whose volunteers or members represent them on social media (such as Twitter or Facebook).  While it can be great to get Twitter mentions about your organization, these can sometimes come at a high cost to your reputation. The last line in the quote above is key, because once sent, the mere 140 characters of a careless Tweet are truly “impossible to stop” and can certainly be “spellbinding to behold” if they negatively impact your organization. So it begs the question: does your organization have a social media policy?

Do you have a social media policy?

For organizations that have a number of staff and/or volunteers promoting their cause on social media, it's best to develop some guidelines or a clear-cut policy around social media. In a post last May, we reviewed a Social Media Policy Workbook , produced by Idealware in partnership with Balance Interactive and Darim Online.  This workbook offers a lot of information and asks questions to help you figure out, for example:
  • your organization’s social media values and roles
  • monitoring policy: how you’ll respond to positive, negative or neutral comments
  • policies on privacy, permissions and copyright
  • where you’ll draw the line between personal and professional opinions

In addition, they offer a companion “Social Media Policy Template” that provides sample  language that a variety of organizations are using in their social media policies.

As Idealware suggests, “A good social media policy will provide clear guidelines as to what staff should and shouldn’t do when posting and interacting with the community on a day-to-day basis. Your organization can create a policy to help guide your whole staff simply by thinking about how you would like to make use of social media.”

So if you're developing a social media policy for your organization, take a look at the Social Media Policy Workbook, and check out some of the Wild Apricot blog posts below to help you get started.

Enjoy the rest of the Summer Olympics!

Related posts:

Image source:  The swimmers compete hard… from Bigstockphoto.com

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 07 August 2012 at 8:30 AM

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Comments

  • Staywimi said:

    Tuesday, 07 August 2012 at 9:47 AM
    Excellent post! We're absolutely loving these Olympics and have been trying to get involved with the social media side as well. We've been putting out daily wrap-ups (they're all up and running here: http://bit.ly/olmVd ), but we've had to be careful we don't get on the wrong side of the LOCOG. So we've made a bit of a joke about the whole copyright aspect.

  • Lori said:

    Tuesday, 07 August 2012 at 11:42 AM
    Staywimi - thanks your rapping wrap-ups are fun!
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