In case you hadn’t noticed, the Winter Olympics have been taking place in Sochi, Russia. The majority of the pre-games talk focused on Russia’s controversial stance on gay rights and the threat to security posed by local terrorist groups. Thankfully, no violence has yet been seen and some have taken the opportunity to take a stance on the country’s gay issues, namely the designer of Germany’s opening ceremony outfits, Channel 4 and the Canadian institute of Inclusion and Diversity!
The games have made a huge impact on social media and have demonstrated the shift away from dependence on traditional media – newspapers, reporters, and, to some extent, television and radio. While athletes still have to deal with the traditional media channels the growth of Twitter in particular has effectively cut out the middle man, giving us behind the scenes access to the games and yet another layer of coverage for the public to engage in.
Behind the Candelabra – #Sochifails
With social media giving us unprecedented access to all the goings on at the games, the Sochi organisers were probably none too pleased when SochiFails, Olympians and journalists decided to share pictures of the not quite 5 star facilities and in some cases, unfinished venues. Here are some of the best examples you might have already seen.
Brace yourself – Olympic Memes are coming
Whilst many had fun in the lead up to the games, the opening ceremony and subsequent sporting action gave the internet more than enough meme-worthy material to enjoy.
One of the best opening ceremony memes used the failure of an Olympic ring to open as an opportunity to take a dig at Microsoft’s somewhat unreliable web browser.
Meanwhile American bobsleigher Johnny Quinn started a new trend, dubbed “Quinning”, after he tweeted this picture of his toilet door. Finding himself locked in with no phone to call for help, he used his bobsled push to break out. The picture inspired many copycats and trended under the hashtag #SochiJailBreak
Ashley Wagner’s shocked face
Figure skater Ashley Wagner channelled her inner McKayla Maroney with her famous reaction to a low score from the judges. Maroney’s memorable ‘unimpressed’ face was one of the most unforgettable shots of London 2012, bringing her so much publicity she famously recreated her screw face at a meeting with President Obama.
As for Wagner’s stunned reaction, this SpongeBob SquarePants inspired effort was among the best the internet could come up with in response.
Figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and his coach Yoshiko Kobayashi became popular in their native Japan following Hanyu’s gold-medal winning routine clinched his country’s first gold of the games.
Kobayashi’s great reaction was the subject of an amusing Sailor Moon parody!
#OlympicBuzz - Social media boost for Olympic athletes
The use of social media at the Olympics gives athletes with fairly low profiles the opportunity to boost the Twitter follower numbers and their marketability. The buzz and attention created by winning a medal can bring with it extra sponsorship opportunities that can be extremely valuable to these athletes, especially as they often only come into the wider public eye once every two or four years.
Our first medallist Jennifer Jones saw a ten-fold increase in followers and now has an audience of over 70,000, while Gold medal winner Lizzie Yarnold has seen her follow numbers explode from 2,500 before the games to almost 50,000 today! We’ll keep an eye on Team GB’s medal winners to see how they fare in the coming months.
As well as showing us how social media can help athletes and brands market themselves and their content, Sochi has also demonstrated the power of social media in political activism. Almost all the pre-game build up was focused on Russia’s stance on gay right and several organisations took the opportunity to produce their own content to make their feelings on the issue known.
Channel 4 brought us Gay Mountain, the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Diversity reminded us how gay the winter Olympics have always been And Google took the opportunity to highlight the values of the Olympic charter.
Major sporting events are becoming increasingly social, with sponsors, brands and athletes all helping to give us an even more comprehensive coverage of competition. This summer Brazil hosts the football World Cup and there is no doubt that the internet will be burgeoning with (not so hilarious) memes, heated Twitter debates and access all areas coverage thanks to the participant’s social media accounts. I for one am looking forward to it!