As the Olympics fever gathers momentum, social media networking like Twitter are hosting special pages to showcase athletes, their families and fans on a common platform.
A report published in The Wall Street Journal July 22 indicates that the special initiative is being offered in partnership with Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal.
Christened Twitter's Olympic hub, the page will be manned by Twitter associates who will clock in over 18 hours a day for 17 consecutive days to collate tweets from athletes, families, fans and NBC personalities.
The main objective of Twitter's Olympics outing appears to be growth in user base as doubt is being cast over the microblogging site's ability to become a money-spinner as Facebook continues to rule in terms of revenue.
With Twitter having built a monthly user base of over 140 million, it is emerging as the go-to resource for people to find news or discuss popular topics.
The strategy for Olympic Games is in line with its expansion plans, justification of $8.4 billion valuation and may also pave way for the much-debated initial public offering.
Justifiably, there is a lot in stake for Twitter from Olympics 2012. NBC has confirmed that it is not partaking in revenue made by Twitter from ads sold to Olympic sponsors on the Games page. On its part, Twitter intends to use the platform to share insider's views and promote NBC's on-air and online coverage.
To further augment games coverage, Twitter staff will be deputed with NBC's Social Media team in London to ensure news, interviews, and TV highlights receive prominent display on Twitter. The Olympics hashtag is being designed to pop up on screen during television coverage, NBC has told the WSJ.
Brands, including General Electric and Procter & Gamble, have purchased ads on Twitter special page.
Regarding the revenue targeted by Twitter, eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Willamson explained to The Wall Street Journal, There's no way of knowing exactly how much advertisers will spend on Twitter during the Olympics, but there is no doubt they will be jockeying for ad space during some of the key events of the Games when traffic on Twitter will explode.
Ahead of this special initiative, Twitter hosted dozens of sessions with athletes and national sports associations urging them to use its service. Besides, the microblogging site encouraged companies to buy ads on Twitter and spread their Olympics marketing message.
Already, 1,000 current and former Olympians are said to be using the social media, including Twitter and Facebook, for the Games.
Twitter reportedly gained popularity with athletes since the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as they took to the microblogging site to connect with fans and score a point over rivals.
The Wall Street Journal report cites how research shows a strong link between social media and TV viewership. Firms like Trendrr state that Twitter accounts for three quarters of social activity around broadcast programs in the first quarter of this year, vs. 16 percent for Facebook.
Though Facebook has launched a similar events page in conjunction with NBC, it is not selling ads on the page.
Despite the NBC-Twitter partnership, it is not clear if their interests will always be in sync during the event coverage. NBC plans to carry event highlight clips and Olympics video on its website and mobile applications, which may not appear on other digital services. Twitter may be indirectly competing with NBC by programming the Olympics on its events page.
However, authorities from both sides rule out competition stating that one channel will complement the other in generating viewer interest. Twitter is a social media forum where news will surface and in some cases be made whereas NBC will be the channel to hang out with to watch Olympics, as it unfolds, they assert.
An Interesting Aside
As part of measures aimed to popularize the games, the main twitter channel hosted by the Games Organizing Committee to propagate news and events about the upcoming games already carries 2515 tweets, follows 980 tweets and boasts of 878,891 followers as of July 23. Besides, separate tweet channels are also being hosted for each event.
Now, you can imagine the interest and eyeballs the special page will garner.