Today at the Sport Accord Convention, I am taking part in a session on social media and cities. Find below some of my key messages


Three key messages:

  1. Take stock of the media ecology around your city. Do some research. It is nearly a decade since all of the major social media platforms were launched. Figure out what’s been going on and identify three layers of access 1) popular 2) unusual 3) niche. Ideally, think about what kind of tools you can deveop as city or help others develop around your city. For instance, during London 2012, the mobile app integrated activity from across a range of stakeholders.
  2. What are the unique ways in which a sports event can promote cities via social media? During London 2012, hashtags were used in venues to promote engagement with the sport, but what about the streets? One interesting cultural programme used ‘pop up’ events that drew on social media exclusively for communications. Cities are busy places, especially during mega events. A conventional marketing programme can actually lead to too many people and, in this era of social media, the value of spontaneous experiences has grown. People like to feel they saw something amazing just by chance. Social media does this. Your audiences will be just as big, but you will reach different people.
  3. How can sports inhabit cities through social media? The day after the cycling road race at London 2012, the IOC Comms director Mark Adams asked fans to limit their use of 3g, as it interfered with their monitoring of the race. How can your city be aware of these needs early enough. Create an ‘innovation lab’ within your city and within your organization to stay ahead of the curve.


Other considerations

  1. Embed a pro-social media policy into your organization. Don’t discourage using facebook at work, just talk to staff about whether they think it is a distraction and try to manage it.
  2. Train people – that starts with the CEO. Social media is best promoted when leaders figure out its value. So, if you have a smart phone, take it out now. put  it on silent. Open the native twitter app and set up your account, twitting #SAcon13
  3. People first, institution second. While people do like to follow an official account, they also like making contact with key people, so think about how you empower your staff to be active.
  4. Identify your key agitators. A lot of activity can be generated from a small number of dedicated followers.  The recent horrific incident in London where a soldier was butchered in the street was seen as a watershed moment in the history of citizen journalism. In this case, the perpetrators sought citizens to share what was going on, not the BBC, not a newspaper. Your citizens are your media.