As the London 2012 Olympic Games role on there’s an interesting insight that has popped out for me. It’s to do with social media.

There seems to be an ugly truth that it’s delivering a negative ROI in terms of medals.

Poor swimming performances have been blamed on nerves, lack of sleep and surprise, surprise, having to manage TOO MUCH SOCIAL MEDIA.


Stephanie Rice, among other swimmers, said she was “overwhelmed” and had “too many fan responses to check and respond to”.

What was her social media ROI? 6th in the 400m individual medley and 4th in 200m individual medley.

Although I guess it became more positive in her eyes, when the Twitterverse lit up after she was spotted trackside at the Velodrone with recently separated Kobe Bryant.  Yellow glasses on head 🙂


On the other hand, the athlete Stephanie & Kobe were watching, Anna Meares – you little rippa Anna Meares – took out gold in the women’s sprint final – comprehensively beating Queen Victoria Pendleton.

I loved Anna’s post race interview where she said, “it’s not just about the strongest legs, it’s who has the strongest mind. Mental toughness.”

She went on to say that she had agreed with her coach to have a self-imposed social media ban in the days leading up to the race just to ensure “clear headspace” and give herself the best chance of focusing on achieving her goal – gold!

Which meant no Facebook, and no Twitter.

Well by my calculations the ROI of social media for sports stars is pretty ugly and negative leading into competition.

So what’s the take-out for marketers?

I believe there are 3 golden learnings:

  1. you must have a clear plan for your social media activity rather than sporadic activity
  2. you must have scalable community management resources to manage the engagement and potential spikes around activity
  3. you must have a digitally literate senior manager to advise and govern key content decisions and social activity (I think Commbank wished they had also followed this protocol before posting a stupid Olympic bomb hoax ad on their YouTube Channel)

Well armed with these pearls of wisdom you can now go forth for social media marketing  Gold!