To mark the 100-day countdown to the start of the London Olympics, the International Olympic Committee launched The Olympic Athletes’ Hub site yesterday. A microsite dedicated to aggregating Facebook posts and tweets from the athletes, the Hub also boasts a gamification component: users who sign up, follow athletes, and engage in the community the opportunity to unlock badges and win prizes. So far, more than 1,000 athletes have been integrated into the site.
The London Olympics are already being branded the “first social Games,” a strategic move by the Olympic Committee to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the Hub’s high-profile launch. During the Beijing Games, Twitter had just 6 million users; that number has increased by more than 23 times to 140 million this year. Facebook has also grown exponentially in the past four years from 100 million to 845 million users. There is no doubt that with the explosion of not just social media users but also platforms (Instagram, Pinterest, et al.), the London Games are certainly going to take on an even more real-time and digitally-interactive dynamic than in 2008.
Aesthetically, the Hub is a creative success, with its sleek, sophisticated design and easy to navigate features. The site works just as well innovation-wise, optimized to identify athletes’ social properties by making their teams, events and games all easily searchable. The homepage also lists the most-followed athletes on Facebook and Twitter. Currently topping the list: NBA basketball players LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, who just lead tennis super stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.