The Game is On! Winter Olympics 2010 Twitter vs. Facebook

Jonas Klit Nielsen from Friday’s kick off for the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver was not only the start of a competition between athletes in winter sports like curling, bobsleighing, ski jumping, ice hockey – OK, you get the picture.

In a recent article, titled “Facebook and Twitter Compete for Olympic Glory” the New York Times introduced a new discipline for these Winter Olympics; the “Social Media Slalom”.

Well, in fact it really was the I.O.C. that talked about the first social media Olympics, as you will read below. However, these Winter Olympics indeed seem to be a competition between social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

Which one will be the most actively used by the online population to get their news from and which one will be the best in connecting and involving people?

The answer seems obvious, and in many ways it is!

Twitter: get close to and live with the athletes in Vancouver

Since last year Twitter has become a popular way for athletes to communicate directly to and with their fans, starting with NBA and NFL athletes.

The athletes at the Winter Olympics seem to do exactly the same.

Twitter has made a list @verified/Olympians, as the name says a list of verified Twitter accounts with contenders on the Winter Olympics.

Via the list, you can follow and see everything, including what the athletes eat. Like American ice skater Chris Needham, who this morning tweeted a picture with the text “Fruit Loops meet rice crispy treats… pooh yeah”. By the way, Chris, hope you get paid good for that 😉

The last time I checked over 5,000 Twitter users followed the list.

The interesting thing for fans is that you can get real close, learn about the nerves, the rush, the bad dreams, the friendships – almost get so close that you can feel your own presence – OK, that’s slightly over the top, but I guess you get the picture.

Facebook: your Winter Olympics 2010 online hub

It might seem hard for Facebook to actually do something about that instant presence and connectedness you get through Twitter, but what the organizers of the International Winter Olympics have done is something many other companies and organizations could learn from. 

They didn’t set up a simple page, they built an online hub for the winter games.

The page offers a good mixture of news, and interaction with fans through a photo contest. A tab on the page has been turned into a page with links to mini games promoting the Winter Olympics.

When I last checked, the page had nearly 1.400.000 fans (!).

It’s going to be interesting to see how the first ‘social media Olympics’, as Alex Huot, the newly appointed head of social media for the I.O.C called it in an interview, will develop.

And, as Brad Stone wondered in his New York Times post, I also wonder which of the social media giants is going to bring the gold medal back home.

Jonas Klit Nielsen is co-founder and Managing Partner of Mindjumpers, a Copenhagen based social media agency. Jonas works with various companies developing strategies for implementing and creating value through the use of social media. As a blogger it’s his aim to share the strategic insights and thoughts, generated through his agency’s work. You can connect with Jonas on Twitter here.

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