7 Social Media Resources for Journalists Covering the Olympics

In just about a month, the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games will be upon us.

The London Games have already been touted as “the first social media Olympics,” with some even going so far as to nickname them the “socialympics.”

Social media will play a big role, with the games showing up on “dedicated portals on Google+, as well as a Twitter branded page, a one-day check-in event with Foursquare (on Olympic Day), a project with Tumblr, and another specifically with Instagram,” reports TechCrunch.

Whether you will be reporting on the games from afar or you’re one of the lucky journalists getting ready to descend on London to cover the Olympics in person, here are seven resources to look at before and during the games.

Explore London 2012 Facebook page
TechCrunch described the newly launched Explore London 2012 Facebook page as “a dedicated page for athletes to communicate with fans and provide their own personalized updates around the event, including medal wins and their own photographs as well as status updates.”

It may be meant for fans but it’s also a one-stop shop for reporters looking to find information on athletes, teams and sports. Simply hit the “like” button and you can easily get updates from those involved directly in the games.

The page links to individual athletes’ Facebook pages as well as teams’ and sports’ pages. You can also quickly access the Olympic Games and London 2012 Facebook pages, respectively.

IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued a pretty comprehensive set of guidelines outlining how athletes and others accredited with the games can blog, post and tweet about their experiences.

Note: These do not speak directly to journalists and news organizations but contain important information nonetheless.

If your news org is trying to get an athlete to blog or tweet for you, for example, pay attention to this caveat:

… it is entirely acceptable for a participant or any other accredited person to do a personal posting, blog or tweet. However, any such postings, blogs or tweets must be in a first-person, diary-type format and should not be in the role of a journalist – i.e. they must not report on competition or comment on the activities of other participants or accredited persons, or disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organisation.

The guidelines also contain useful facts on audio, video, photos, URLs and linking, as well as a list of key Olympics-related definitions.

The Olympic Athletes Hub
The athletes participating in the Olympics should be the star of the show so the more ways of reaching them you have, the better. Luckily, social media sites basically give you unfettered access.

If you aren’t interested in following a bunch of different athletes’ Twitter feeds and Facebook status updates, visit the Olympic Athletes Hub, sponsored by Olympics.org.

The hub assigns athletes a profile page, showing their number of fans, recent tweets, sports events and Facebook page. The homepage even lists featured athletes and shows you who is most followed.

The site’s main draw, however, is its search function. Just type in the name of an athlete, team, event and you’ll get a list showing you everyone in the database that fits your search criteria.

London 2012 Twitter feeds
Twitter will be another hot spot for information during the Olympics.

There are a few of options here in terms of who to follow. London 2012 has an official Twitter feed. If you want to follow individual athletes, make sure to check out NBC News’ list of athletes participating in the games. To check out what the competition is tweeting about during the games, take a look at Storyful’s Twitter list. It includes a lot of sports reporters and editors.

As the Olympics get closer to starting, more Twitter lists will pop up so keep an eye out for those as well.

Storify’s Olympics Page

You’re going to be busy covering the Olympics, which means you may miss certain tweets or photos. Instead of worrying about what you didn’t catch, why not bookmark Storify’s designated Olympics page?

Every story relating to the Olympics, whether it’s a collection of Olympics news tweets or a bunch of Pinterest photos from the games, will show up on Storify, one of the best curators of social information out there.  The site will also promote and feature selected Olympics stories throughout the Olympics.

If you are looking to use the platform yourself, take a look at its suggestions on how to use Storify during the games.

Government Olympic Communications Flickr page
When it comes to covering something like the Olympics, the importance of art and photos cannot be understated.

But art can be expensive and hard to get. The Government Olympics Communications newsroom, part of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, seems to have had this in mind when it set up a photo archive on Flickr. All the images are under a Creative Commons license and the media is encouraged to use them.

So far, a lot of the images aren’t necessarily useful to international news outlets but I imagine that will change once the games are underway. The site doesn’t say, however, how often the archive will be updated.

Mobile Apps
We’ve already covered a lot of social media resources so we will only briefly touch on mobile apps.

NBC is taking its mobile coverage of the Olympics very seriously — coming out with a free app that will send you live updates from the games in London. The app has yet to be released but a slew of others are already out. ReadWriteWeb had a good review of some iPhone and iPad apps that are either free or cost $0.99. For Android users, there are the two official London 2012 mobile apps.

Have we missed anything? What other social media resources are you using to cover the games?