I’m pleased to say our event for Social Media Week ‘Did London 2012 Win Social Olympics Gold?’, which took place yesterday at Skyloft London was a huge success.
I was lucky enough to sit on a panel with this impressive bunch of people:
- Pete Reed MBE - Olympic Gold Medalist, Rower for Team GB
- Anna Watkins – Olympic Gold Medalist, Rower for Team GB
- Nick Jones - Digital Community Relationship Lead, British Airways
- Cait O’Riordan - Head of Product, Sport and 2012, BBC
- Joe Morgan – Online Editor & Digital Marketing Manager, Team GB
- Jerry Daykin - Social Media & Community Manager, Cadbury
The two-and-a-half-hour event was moderated by Ronke Phillips (ITV News), who quizzed our panel of industry experts and our Olympic heroes, rowers Pete Reed MBE and Anna Watkins, on their individual perspectives on the use of social media at London 2012.
— Jeremy Singer (@JeremySinger1) September 26, 2012
Uniquely for Social Media Week London, we had two athletes on our panel who could offer us a rare insight into their personal use of social media during the Games. Tamar’s research, carried out both before and during the Games, had looked at whether there was a correlation between the use of social media and winning a medal and had found there was no obvious positive or negative relationship, so we were keen to find out more.
Pete and Anna confirmed that, while they had been given no specific instructions to stop using social media, they had been advised to think carefully about its use and how it might affect them and their performance. Both our rowers had decided to ‘switch-off’ after the Opening Ceremony and withdraw from any social media interactions until after the completion of their events. Anna further explained she had stopped using her usual phone completely and bought a cheap mobile to communicate only with her husband and parents. She completely withdrew from any other contact with the ‘connected world’.
Pete explained that he was an avid fan of social media and found Twitter ‘addictive’ but both felt they had made the right decision. Pete described switching his phone on again as akin to being ‘hit like storm’ and Anna said she wasn’t sure if she could have competed effectively knowing the strength of emotion that had built up online watching her and Katherine Granger prepare for their race. She commented that if she had sat on the start line really appreciating the full weight of the nation’s hopes behind them, the pressure might have been distracting.
Both said that they had been ‘overwhelmed’ by the outpouring of support and emotion that awaited them when they reconnected with the social world after their gold medal-winning events. Despite some discussion on the panel around Tom Daley’s Twitter troll and the negative comments about some of our swimmers, both stressed that their own social media experiences had been entirely positive. Anna said that it had been a great pleasure for her to ‘get feedback from children and the young that have felt inspired by us’, something that would not have been possible before, and how motivating that was.
Ronke asked Anna to expand on her own ‘Twitter moment’, the controversy over male rowers being given cars by local BMW dealerships and not female rowers, which Anna had been asked about on Newsnight and which then escalated into a Twitter storm. Anna had that she had actually been very grateful for Twitter giving her a platform to to expand on the very brief TV interview and explained exactly what had happened. In a further conversation about how Twitter has changed news reporting I commented that it was ironic, given the 140 character limitation, that Twitter had given Anna a more lengthy opportunity to lay out her comments than her TV appearance had. We both agreed that in the ‘pre-Twitter’ days the print press might have picked up on Anna’s comments and spun them into a negative story about her, Anna’s profile on Twitter stopped that happening.
Further panel convetions took in the contributions of key London 2012 sponsors Cadburys and British Airways and a show of hands reflected how popular the ‘Don’t Fly’ BA campaign had been and the personalized TV ad, which had gone viral and generated 6 million views for BA, was highlighted as a particular success.
Cadbury’s came in for praise from the athletes for their ‘athletes-only’ app – which none of the attendees or panel had previously been aware of – which enabled friends and family to send personalised ‘postcards’ to athletes competing. Anna said she had really enjoyed using the app and that when they arrived in the Olympic Village all the postcards had been printed out for them which had been a really nice touch.
The undoubted highlight of the day for everyone in the room was when Pete and Anna generously handed round their gold medals for all of the audience to handle and admire. Pete said that while he’s incredibly proud of his medals what he likes most is witnessing the effect that seeing them seems to have on other people.
I really want to thank everyone for making the event such a success. Especially Pete and Anna for allowing that bit of magic to descend into the room and to enable us all for a brief moment to get a tantalizing sense of what it must feel like to be win gold.
If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry, you can watch an unedited recap below:
Alternatively, you can vicariously experience the event through the photos below (full album can be found here):
An attendee enjoys the panoramic view of London.
Our impressive panel show their appreciation to all those that attended our event.
A smiley Henry Elliss delivering our findings on the impact and influence of social media during the Games.
Members of the audience pen their findings.
Pete Reed and Anna Watkins with their Olympic gold medals.
Pete Reed announces that audience members will get a chance to hold both his and Anna’s gold medals.
An audience member cherishing a rare opportunity.
Nick Jones discusses British Airway’s ‘Don’t Fly’ campaign.
Jerry Daykin talks about Cadbury’s, particularly their sponsorship of the London 2012 Games.
Here’s me talking about the London 2012 Olympics and its legacy.
Anna Watkins clarifies her comments in regards to sexism and BMW.
Pete Reed answers questions from the audience.
Members of the audience listen intently.
Me enjoying a chat with Pete Reed and Anna Watkins.
Members of the audience have their pictures taken with Pete Reed.
Sam, Lily and Liz look happy as guests join us for drinks/networking opportunities.
Guests enjoying each other’s company.
More guests enjoying a drink.
Ronke and Sarah smile for the camera.
An understandably happy lady caught between two of our brilliant panel members!
Me having a wrap-up drink with Sarah, Liz and Tom Murray.
A room with a view – Skyloft, Millbank Tower.Tweet