If you're a big fan of the Olympics and want to enhance your experience beyond simply watching the games on the tube, Facebook and the IOC are trying to make it easier for you. While various social media outlets are promoting the Olympics through dedicated pages and the like, it's Facebook that today has launched a big database for following everything Olympic - the Explore London 2012 hub.
The hub was unveiled during an event in London this morning, as a effort over a year in the making.
"We will follow the athletes’ stories for the next 17 days,” said Facebook's Joanna Shields. “It’s that discovery through friends that makes things interesting and makes you want to click on media. We want to bring discovery to the Olympics.”
A trip to the hub allows you to find athletes, teams, and even individual sports to follow - as well as suggests that fans "like" the two official pages of the games - The Olympic Games and London 2012. As of now, the Explore London Page offers nearly 200 individual athletes, 60 different teams, and 25 specific sports.
"Liking" any of these pages will set you up to receive updates from the athletes - something that could be really fun for Olympic fans during the games. Although the IOC has a fairly strict social media policy, they will allow athletes to post text and photos while participating. You won't see any exclusive videos on Facebook, however, as they've been hit with the banhammer.
The goal is that the Olympians will participate in social media while at the games - that way fans can get an inside look into the process with personal status updates, photo uploads, and more. Of course, the success of London 2012 as a true "social Olympic" experience depends on how seriously the athletes and teams take updating the social media accounts.
Facebook is also trying to stay in the spirit of the games by offering up these various Olympic-themed pages san advertisements. Since the Olympic stadium will be a "clean venue" without visible ads, it made sense that the athletes and teams' Facebook pages followed suit.
The entire London 2012 games will be broadcast live on YouTube, although recent reports predict that online viewership may be lower than expected. A survey also found that only 6% of Brits and 12% of Americans plan to follow the game via a social network. That number more than doubled when it came to the Chinese and the Brazilians.