2010 Olympics – Day 8

If you’re going to have employees, staff, family or friends representing you in the virtual (i.e., digital) space, it’s important that you give them clear guidance as to what’s permissible. That’s why all kinds of organizations have developed formal policies that do just that. See this collection from SocialMediaGovernance.com for a sampling.

But when they include too much guidance, policies can become restrictive. And restriction can reduce participation by those whom you mean to guide. The Winter Olympics are no exception, as exemplified by this article from Wired Magazine last week. In the piece, you’ll see that at least a few Olympic athletes have become so confused about what the IOC permits that they are simply halting their social networking until after the Games are over.

Apart from these restrictions, there are a few points in the guidelines that don’t make much sense for social networking. Here they be:

  1. Posts need to be confined to personal experiences. Per the Director of Media Services for the US Olympic Committee, that means “you can’t act as a journalist if you aren’t.” Issue: doesn’t social media make us all journalists now?
  2. No actual sporting events or action are allowed to be posted. Issue: people follow others for news and updates (i.e., content). When it comes to the Olympics, content is by its very nature about the sports.
  3. Only references to official Olympic partners are permitted. Issue: team sponsors have a huge vested interest in the Games; as do those brands advertising during network broadcasts–and I’m assuming not all of them are official Olympic sponsors. The IOC therefore is limiting social “buzz” for companies who rely on a return on their investment.
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