Rob Livingstone is the producer of GamesBids.com and has been closely following the Olympic bid process for 20 years. He will be blogging through the final days before the election on October 2. Rob will bring you first-hand observations from the scene in Copenhagen. Follow him on Twitter.
The bid for the 2016 Olympics Games is the first since social networking has taken a grip on the Internet; and the bid committees are leveraging new technologies to change the way the bids are marketed.
With the finish line just a little more than a week away, excitement is building and bid committees are working to use this to their advantage.
Some of the bids have launched Facebook pages, YouTube sites and even Twitter Feeds -and are using these for various purposes. While fans of the bids can’t vote and they won’t be going to Copenhagen to lobby the International Olympic Committee, they can still play an important part thanks to the Internet.
GamesBids.com has been running polls on various Olympic bid topics for more than 10 years. However this year bid committees are able to utilize social networking to mobilize their army of fans and encourage them to show their support in a way that may have an impact on voting IOC members.
Several news articles in Brazil, have identified three websites that IOC members pay attention to. Two of the sites, including GamesBids.com, are running polls asking readers to identify which of the four cities they support. Presumably the bid committees are anticipating that IOC members will see these polls; and to ensure they get a positive impression they are urging their supporters to vote.
Then it’s up to the viral effect. Through Facebook, Twitter, and discussion forums (such as the one on GamesBids.com) the supporters are asked to tell their friends to vote in the same polls.
It was reported on GamesBids.com that Rio’s volunteer department sent out an e-mail asking supporters to vote in the polls. At the time this e-mail was sent, Rio was trailing Tokyo in the GamesBids.com poll mainly because the poll was referenced on several Japanese discussion forums. But a subsequent surge of Brazilian voters swelled by Rio’s Twitter feed took Rio into the lead. Chicago and Madrid trail far behind after almost 137,000 votes have been cast. [At the filing of this blog, a “counterattack” from Japanese forums and emails has helped Tokyo surge back into the lead.
On another site, Inside the Games, a similar poll has been promoted on Twitter by the Rio and Chicago committees, with Rio having a slight edge after about 28,000 votes have been cast. Chicago’s success can be credited to numerous ‘tweets’ on Twitter. This time Tokyo and Madrid barely show up.
On Facebook, Madrid and Chicago are in a race to sign up 100,000 fans before October 2. Madrid has a clear lead with over 93,000 members; Chicago lags behind with about 77,000. But Rio and Tokyo supporters seem to have no interest in the popular Website – Rio has signed up 1100 and Tokyo has only 420.
Are these polls really that important? Probably not. They certainly aren’t scientific, but they do illustrate the success of the bid marketers in spreading their messages of support – and perhaps this will give an indication of the ability to generate excitement and support for an Olympic Games.