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Social Media and the Olympics: Change, Social Media and London 2012

by Chief Digital Officer at The Engine Group on Dec 01, 2008

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"Using Social Media to Inspire Change" 2008 Pinkerton Lecture delivered by Alex Balfour, head of new media for London 2012, on November 26 2008 to the Institute of Engineering and Technology in ...

"Using Social Media to Inspire Change" 2008 Pinkerton Lecture delivered by Alex Balfour, head of new media for London 2012, on November 26 2008 to the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London.

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  • PapessE PapessE Hi,

    Beautiful and very interesting. I am currently studying social media strategies and would appreciate if you could send me this PPT presentation so I can further continue reviewing it, using it as a reference. Great presentation ! Email : sylvie.piche@yahoo.ca
    Thanks !
    3 years ago
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  • rubyq ruby quince, Head of Digital at Trimedia excellent. really enjoyed reading this, many great insights @rubyq 4 years ago
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  • flapancy InHyuk Song, Professional Writer at FutureDesigners wow great, thanks for your nice presentation! 4 years ago
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  • spiyush86 spiyush86 HI ...amazing presentation ...i m studying event management and i m making a report on beijing olympics n london 2012, could you please email me this ppt ......it would really help me in referencing ...thank you ...
    spiyush86@gmail.com
    4 years ago
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  • Anir75 Anirban Ganguly, Strategy Planning DIrector at Lowe Worldwide fabulous! my thanks to you for this pres! can u please email me a copy of this! my email: anir75@ovi.com 5 years ago
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  • balf Alex Balfour, Chief Digital Officer at The Engine Group ***FULL TRANSCIPT***

    Thank you. It is an honour to be asked to speak tonight to this august body in this grand theatre and made all the more intimidating for me as last year’s speaker was Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the web. So I thought it would be appropriate to start by borrowing a line from the great man. In his book, weaving the web, Sir Tim wrote: “The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy.”

    Over the past 14 years his creation, the world wide web, *has* had an extraordinary worldwide social effect. It has changed the way we talk to and with one another. The way we consume goods and services. And even the way we think.

    Tonight I’m going to talk about that effect and how we, at London 2012, hope to harness it to inspire change.

    Here’s tonight’s running order. The title of the lecture is “using social media to inspire change”.

    So I’m going to start by attempting to define the term “social media” – the means by which that social effect Sir Tim refers to has come about

    Then I’ll talk about how social media will develop in the run up to 2012.

    After that I’ll talk to you about London’s Olympic and Paralympic Games and our vision for those Games.

    Finally I’ll explain how we are planning to use social media to help deliver that vision.

    And we’ll use any remaining time for questions.

    And Im going to show a few videos throughout to stop you from getting too bored.
    So what is, or are, “social media”. It’s a slightly vague term that is used a lot these days to describe, usually breathlessly and often inaccurately, a whole range of modern online phenomena. Wikipedia defines it as “Internet and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.”
    Its probably easier to simply describe social media very simply as “people having conversations online”.
    What’s remarkable about those conversations is the sheer variety of different ways they take place. In a generation a large number of people have moved from communicating either face to face, by phone, fax or post to communicating using dozens of online and electronic services and mechanisms, sometimes in real time, sometimes not. These include blogging, micro blogging using services like twitter, social networks like facebook and myspace, forums, video and photo sharing sites like youtube and flickr, online chat, wikis, contributing reviews on sites like Amazon and tripadvisor, mailing lists, and virtual worlds. [indicating at slide] The range is staggering.
    The scale of some of this activity is remarkable too. You may not have heard of all the services in the previous slide but you have probably heard of some of the biggest. Youtube, the video sharing site, and Facebook, the UK’s leading social network, now have around 10 million users in the UK. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, reaches over 5 million Britons every month and Bebo and Myspace, both social networks, are next in line with 4 million monthly users.
    With scale comes volume.

    Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has 11.2 million articles

    Youtube has over x million videos. 14 hours of video are uploaded to youtube every minute

    Lets have a look at behaviour. Universal Mccann, an advertising agency, have been conducting a three phase study, the Wave study, on of the largest of its kind, of “people who use the Internet every day every other day”. The sample size includes 17,000 respondents and covers 29 markets.

    As with all survey results you should treat the numbers with caution. But the findings are consistent with similar studies conducted by leading research companies and a recent study conducted in the UK by Ofcom about which more in a moment. And the figures are remarkable.

    52% of respondents to the survey (worldwide) have uploaded photos on the Internet.
    83% have watched video online, and 39% have uploaded video
    57 % have set up a profile on a social network
    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/terinea/11 04709726/sizes/o/]

    In short the majority of people who are active online are also users of social media.
    What does an active user of social media look like? This image shows all the social media services used by a friend of mine, Phil Gyford, to conduct his daily conversation with a range of different friends. Some he knows, some he doesn’t. You can see his blog, his personal sites, his music selections, photos he takes, his CV, his videos and even his location are regularly updated and uploaded.
    But what does he really look like? These are pioneer days and keeping up with all the new services isn’t easy [set against specific photo slide].
    But at the heart of all this social media are, very simply, a series of conversations between people
    All this activity tends to get the traditional print and broadcast media, and its owners, very excited. Rupert Murdoch, who bought Myspace two years ago, speaking to the worshipful company of stationers and Newspaper makers in the aftermath of that acquisition in 2006 said: “It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy not just companies but whole countries”. His language bears the hallmarks of the zeal of the recent convert.
    What has the impact of social media really been? Is it a revolution? This slightly banal image shows what looks like a happy couple eating ice cream in a town square. Infact it was taken in May 2006 in October Square in Minsk, capital of Belarus. Two months before President Lukasehnko, who has been President since 1994, had been returned to office in an election which the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe declared “unfair” and which saw an opposition leader and election observers detained. Public protests following the election were disrupted by police. So young people took their greivance onto the Internet and used blogs and mobile phones to organise a meet up in Minsk to eat ice cream

    As you can see from this image the authorities, who had shadowed the organising online, stepped in and arrested the perpetrators. Naturally the organisers published their photos of the proceedings online. As the New York University Professor Clay Shirky, from whom I’ve borrowed this example shamelessly, said when speaking to the RSA in March of this year: “Nothing says dictatorship like banning consumption of ice cream in puiblic”. In territories where freedom of association, freedom of the press or freedom of speech are threatened social media can and is having a profound impact. In countries like ours its also having an impact. This image shows a facebook page set up by irate students angry that their bank, HSBC, decided to scrap interest free overdrafts for university leavers just as the class of 2007 graduated. Four thousand graduates joined the campaign and HSBC was forced to stand down. This is a photo of an engineer who worked for Comcast, a US cable supplier in Washington DC. He visited a customer’s home in the summer of 2006 to fix their Internet connection and fell asleep on the customer’s sofa while on the phone back to base. The clip was viewed over 100,000 times on youtube and had wide airplay on US networked news. This final photo shows Kryptonite lock being opened with a ballpoint pen – another youtube video resulting in another run on an unhappy company. Stories like these are legion. They might seem “dangerous” and “destructive” if you worked in corporate PR for HSBC, Comcast or Kryptonite but talk of revolution seems a little overblown.
    If it is a revolution its been a long time coming
    Social media has been around for a relatively long time.
    Email 37 years
    Online forums (usenet) 29 years
    Chat 20 years
    Web 14 years
    Internet telephony 13 years
    Web Ecommerce 13 years
    Social networking sites 13 years
    Ebay 13 years
    Online video 11+ years
    Myspace 10 years
    Google 10 years
    Wikipedia 8 years
    The reason it has taken so long to blossom is that the pace of growth is dictated not by some unmanageable force but by the willingness and ability of humans to adapt. This graph shows the speed of broadband adoption in major European markets which you can see has been relatively gentle.
    This graph shows the classic Everett Rogers diffusion of innovation model. It was developed by the American sociologist, Everett Rogers, in 1962 to explain the pace of adoption of innovation among farmers and has been widely used ever since to track the adoption of new technologies. According to the Consumer Electronics Association in the US getting the first 63% of households to buy a TV set took about eight years, from 1947 to 1955.
    That's about the same amount of time it took the Internet to get to just over 60% penetration from 1994 to 2001 in the UK and subsequently, as this graph shows, there was a steady levelling off of growth.

    Shown in another form the Rogers model shows an S curve where after a period of rapid adoption the speed of further adoption levels off. The adoption of the Internet as a consumer phenomenon in general, and social media in particular, has been predictable and relatively slow. What’s really interesting is that we are now here, at the levelling off point, where the majority of the population have access to the Internet, are the majority of them are using social media.
    As Clay Shirky puts it, succinctly, “these tools have become technologically boring enough to become socially interesting”.

    Ofcom produced an excellent study in April, part of an annual series, of the growth of converging media in the UK. This graph shows the age spread of the UK Internet audience and proportion of time spent online. What is interesting is that the 25-34 and 35-49 age group have disproportionate online access compared to their population share and also that the 25-34 age group, not their younger peers, are the heaviest user of the Internet closely followed by the 50-64 age group.

    This image, from the Wave study again, shows how frequent internet viewers perceive the trustworthiness of different information sources as a means of recommending a consumer product or brand. The top four trusted forms of recommendation, here, are all direct conversation – significantly two of these are now on internet channels: email and Instant Messenger. Looking here you can see that frequent Internet users trust a review created *by a stranger* only slightly less than a recommendation from a friend and markedly more than a traditional advertisement or paid for communication. Blogs are almost as trusted as their written word counterparts, magazines and newspapers. But not everything online is trusted: emails from companies are only marginally more trusted than celebrity recommendations.

    On the same theme this image from the Ofcom report shows that almost all age groups value “user generated” content equally with professionally produced content.

    And this image from the Wave study shows that internet using UK citizens keep in touch with as may people through social networks as they do face to face. Interesting, as an aside but a further insight into social effect, area the global patterns showing that UK internet users have slightly more friends, and busier texting fingers than Americans and certainly more than the Japanese, but are far behind the Brazilians and Chinese who have not only have more friends but have more friends online than offline.
    We have reached the point where these behaviours prompted by social media – online conversations - are starting to become main stream. What could this mean in the timeframe of the London 2012 Games? Ill skip over some of the figures in this slide but they key figures are 75% broadband penetration in the Uk by 2012; use of internet on the mobile at above 50% among a population that already has 100% mobile penetration.

    This image from an Australian study by KPMG shows the range of social media that can be consumed with connections slower than 2mbps which will be the norm through 2012. What we expect to see is not the growth of the sort of services only possible such as these [points to graph] - telepresence, holograms and wonderful future possibilities - with connections faster than 10mb, which some but only a minority will have in our time frame, but a more intensive use of existing services such as email, chat, online video that we have covered today.

    Before we finish the social media overview Ill briefly focus on one very interesting audience that is very important to us : young people

    We’ve seen that its not just young people who make use of social media. But their comfort in using it and willingness to adapt is unsurprisingly high. This graph from the Ofcom study shows the number different devices young people in the Uk have access to. The striking – and scary- part is the red line which shows that 50% of under 8 year olds have a mobile phone and by 12 almost all have one. They generally use them to send texts, which at 3 to 5p on a pay as you go tarriff are cheaper than calls. But as tarrifs come down we expect them to use the Internet more and more on their phones

    Mobile is so important to the very young that they are the only generation who would miss their mobile more than their tv, and by a ratio of 2 to 1 as this graph shows

    And of course they’ll access the mobile internet while doing other things. This graph shows the propensity of young people to use other devices while watching TV
    And here’s the same graph where the benchmark activity is using the Internet

    Young people are also big users of social media sites and particularly social networking sites. This graph shows that half of all children have a profile on a social networking site. Interestingly their parents, this bar chart on the left, think only 15% do….

    Do any of you lecture to students? This photo shows you what a modern university lecture hall looks like - if you’re the speaker [image of lecture hall audience, every one with a laptop]. At least they are turning up - even if some aren’t paying much attention.

    I’m going to talk about our Games and we’ll start with a short film to remind us of why we are here.

    It goes without saying the Games is a huge event - the worlds biggest peacetime logistical operation.
    To put it into context:
    - World Cup has 32 nations and 700 footballers competing; in 2012 we will have 205 and over 15,000 athletes
    With 26 Olympic sports, it is similar to hosting 26 World Championships at the same time in a period of 17 days

    This sense of scale has the power to generate change on a huge scale and at an unprecedented pace:
    The Games in 1992 triggered a transformation of Barcelona in the space of 5 years that would otherwise have taken 30 years
    And that is what we are looking for in the east end of London
    Just as an example, there are 2,275 people already working on the Olympic Park: 1 in 10 of them were unemployed (one fifth are local residents)

    But it is not just about size and the scale of the Games, nor is it just the sport. The Olympic and Paralympic Games embody something aspirational.

    The Olympic Games inspires people.
    It brings people together in ways that they would not normally come together.

    London 2012’s vision is to:
    “To use the power of the Games to Inspire Change”

    What we really mean is social change - change in social behaviour and social relations

    That’s a grand vision and it encompasses a series of changes:
    change in people’s lives
    change in sport participation
    change in attitudes to disability
    change in the communities across London, particularly East London
    change in sustainability and protecting the world we live in
    change in how everyone participates and engages with the Games
    change in how cities host the Olympic and Paralympic Games

    So back to our topic. How can we use social media to help bring about these changes?

    The most obvious and important thing to realise as we’ve seen tonight is social media has already catalysed significant social change

    There has been a change how and by what means people interact


    And a consequent change in how they consume

    And even how people think.

    Arranging a night out. Sharing a photo or a thought with a friend. Finding out about things. Finding out what other people think.

    For young people of course these aren’t changes, they are simply the way things are. A friend of mine who works in the new media industry took his kids around to another friends house. His kids wanted to watch their favourite television programme. His friend had a basic four channel terrestrial analogue set. And the kids favourite programme wasn’t on. My friend was completely unable to explain the concept of “its not on” to his children as they were used to their own digital home with multi channel digital telly, PVRs, DVDs, Iplayer and video on demand.

    Eventually he had could only satisfy them by simply explaining that their hosts TV was broken. I don’t think his kids are hoping to be TV schedulers when they grow up

    The most important change is that the ability that everyone using social media to have a conversation about anything with any number of people anywhere – people are on longer dependent on traditional print and broadcast mechanisms to bring them together and amplify their views. The opportunity for an institution such as ours is to help shape those conversations and the collective activity they inspire. We cant create communities – they create themselves. We cant impose social change. But we can inspire it.

    There’s a very obvious example to bring in at this point which shows how social media have been used to inspire and organise change on a grand scale

    I’m talking of course about this [0bama headlines images]

    Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change
    His campaign has been widely heralded as the election not won by the press like British elections of yore [image of sun wot won it] but on the Internet.

    His campaign’s use of social media was exemplary. Compare and contrast. Barack Obama’s facebook page

    And John Mccains. Note the “official facebook page of John Mccain and Sarah Palin” graphic and the equally clumsy “a message from John Mccain on facebook”.

    Obama won the facebook race with 3.2 million supporters, while John Mccain could only muster 610k [as at 17/11/08]

    But Obama didn’t just win out on facebook. He played the game across the whole range of social media. The sheer proliferation of Internet activity became something of a national joke. Here’s another short video [clip from the the election night edition of John Stewart’s Daily Show]

    And you wont be surprised to hear me say that the use of social media in American politics hasn’t been an overnight sensation. Ever since the Drudge report, a blog, broke the Monica Lewinsky story ten years ago the Internet has played a key part in the national politics of the US. In 2004 Howard Dean came from rank outsider to make a credible run at the Democratic nomination on the back of a huge online fund raising and campaigning drive. Obama hired one of the founders of Facebook, Chris Hughes, but also a key staffer from the Dean camapaign, Joe Rospars. Rospars spelled out the Obama campaign methodology to the Wall Street journal in 2007: “The campaign has to remain focused on using technology as a means to reaching a campaign goal, he says. 'We don't just do technology for technology's sake,' says Mr. Rospars. 'How does something help the campaign or help reach a campaign goal?'.“

    And what were those goals - to raise money and get the vote out. In 21 months Obama’s online efforts generated:
    35,000 online groups

    200,000 real life events

    millions of calls

    $160m in m surprised to get a reply I’m only 14”

    We fielded over 1000 comments
    And in the end generated 100,000 new names in our database. So here’s the model in action. We promoted the event online, used an onlnie mechanism to process tickets to an offline event and inspired participation with a digital campaign which sat squarely in the territory that Interner users inhabit.
    Moving forward our plan is to apply this model to all the different programmes we run. We will use social media tools to invite the public to participate and capture the best of that participation in what we call, clumsily, our “map and brick” framework. We have built an online map, which I can show you now, which captures all the activity taking place as part of the project. Right now we are populating it with our stuff but soon we will incorporate all the activity we have inspired around the country across all of our programmes over the next three and a half years whether they be culture- and we have ten strands of a cultural olympiad covering dance, theatre, music, art and so on, sustainability, education, or range of sponsor activities.

    And the exciting part is that at gamestime the very best stuff, perhaps determined by public acclaim, can be transferred from an online environment and actually embedded in the venues where the Games are staged – hence the brick.

    Whether in the big screens (live sites)

    Or in the fabric of the venues themselves.

    This is an image of the main stadium, a temporary venue with a planned 80,000 seats and gamestime and 25,000 in legacy. A piece of fabric, known as the wrap, will dress the outside of the stadium and as envisaged here it could contain thousands of pixellated images all contributed by members of the public as a record of their acheivements over four years. Given budget and technology this could actually be a live projection on this or other venues relfecting crowd reactions or live events.
    So, in conclusion, the change is already happening. We intend to embrace it. We hope to harness it for good. And we welcome you to join us in that attempt. Thank you.
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Social Media and the Olympics: Change, Social Media and London 2012 Social Media and the Olympics: Change, Social Media and London 2012 Presentation Transcript