Twitter an Olympic Sport? Think Not

Twitter an Olympic Sport? Think Not
Wendy Thomas - Thu Aug 02, 2012 @ 11:24AM
Comments: 23


Since when did Twitter become an Olympic sport? 


If you've spent any time watching the summer Olympics on NBC you know that they've enlisted Ryan Seacrest to be, well, I'm not really sure.


Not clear on how to fit him in, they are using him as a sort of sports journalist (?!), a pop-culture reporter, and a Social Media guru. Here's a spoiler alert – it's not working.


Although many, through twitter, are damning him for his sports reporting skills:


arcNYC36 ‏@MarcNYC36 C'mon #NBC nuff fluff time with #Seacrest get us more Olympics!!!!! This is only once every 4 yrs - we deserve better! This isn't a pop show


And while it is questionable to include an entertainment host as a sports journalist (people commented that it felt like they might need to dial a phone number in order to vote for the winner of each swim heat), it is the Social Media coverage that seems to be taking the biggest hit.


Last night we saw Ryan Seacrest standing in front of a large screen telling us that during Micheal Phelps swim, the largest percentage of tweets were about him.




Now that's a shock.


Seacrest pulled out some sort of measuring tool and then proceeded to explain Twitters in terms of measuring an earthquake. It was silly then and it continues to be silly now. Trying to analyze and make news of yesterday's tweets shows a gross misunderstanding by NBC of what Twitter does and how it works. Oh, in case you were wondering, when the women's gymnastics team was performing a lot of tweets were about them – go figure.


Twitter is an ongoing conversation about what is happening now, right this minute. Those on Twitter don't care about what happened yesterday because that's old news. Twitter is about what's going on now. It's about the athletes while they are in competition, about the call of a ref, and yes, it's also about the failure of NBC to recognize this.


If you want to see some feedback on how the Twitter community feels about NBC's attempt at making this the “Twitter Olympics” just spend a few moments reading the tweets under #NBCfail. They are not pretty but they are honest.


Mrs. Betty Bowers ‏@BettyBowers Ryan Seacrest is the high fructose corn syrup of TV journalism. Ubiquitous and without any apparent benefit. #NbcFail

karen smitty ‏@karensmitty It's great having a former Olympic athlete like Ryan Seacrest in this broadcast. #nbcfail @nbcolympics

Diane Ademu-John ‏@junkyardmessiah I just watched Ryan Seacrest read a Jonas brother tweet about the Queen, on air during Olympic coverage. I think I'm done here.#NBCfail


Perhaps @jestfunny summed it up best when he tweeted:


R Henry ‏@jestfunny Given a choice, i would ban #seacrest not steroids at the #olympics.


Look, I get it. Social media and especially Twitter are changing the landscape and the rules. TV coverage is scrambling to figure out both how Twitter fits in and how to report on it (and even if indeed, it needs reporting.)


It's a brave new world and clearly NBC is trying. The big thing though is that the path currently being taken is obviously not the right one. Twitter is not for reading out loud on television someone's inane tweet of congratulations the next night. (Beiber tweeted congratulations is news? What did you expect him to say?)


Twitter is for taking a pulse during an event, it's fluid, it's evolving and just doesn't stand still long enough to talk about it in a 3 minute television segment the next day.





Wendy Thomas is a writer, journalist, and blogger on subjects ranging from social networking and e-marketing to owning backyard chickens. She spent more than 20 years as a technical writer and has taught classes in technical writing and instructional design both at the graduate and undergraduate level. Through her business; Jackson and Thomas e-Writing, her work with, and as a Savvy Sister at, she regularly consults with companies advising on best practices to use when trying to effectively get their brand and platform recognized on the Internet.

Wendy has been a guest speaker, a columnist, and has been published in regional and national newspapers and magazines, as well as on many blogs. You can contact Wendy at


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