There is no shortage of “what-HR-can-learn-from-the-Olympics” articles out today. As a sucker for the Games – and the individual effort and sacrifice it takes to become an Olympian – I do like a good triumph over adversity story. NBC made sure to include lots of pretend-to-have-something-in-your-eye back stories over the weekend. I’m always a little miffed when they come up right before the big race, but end up appreciating the athletes more having an understanding of just what kinds of odds they overcame.
But this post isn’t about triumph, it’s about failure. #NBCfail to be exact. You see, the world of online social media has changed from even four years ago. According to Twitter, Friday’s opening ceremony in London sparked 9.66 million Tweets, already topping the total number of Twitter posts during the entire 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
And a large number of those Tweets blasted NBC for doing something every network has done since the first Olympic TV broadcast in 1960… tape delay. You’re probably thinking… Oh, right, with everyone Tweeting results in real-time, why wouldn’t NBC just carry the events live, instead of pretending to build all this drama? But we’re not talking about any actual events (those angry Tweets come later), we’re talking about the Opening Ceremonies!
Sure, there are some cool surprises, but nothing you HAVE to see live. Or, if someone tells you Mary Poppins floats in, it’s not going to ruin it for you. So what’s the big deal?
NBC’s response tells the story. They believe the tape delay allows them to add “context.” Well, to the mobile, social, connected crowd they might have just as well have said, “propaganda,” or “or filtered information,” or “only show just what we want them to see,” or any other phrase that smacked of censorship or information control. In other words, we no longer want anyone else’s “context,” we just want the information and WE will decide what context to put in.
And it doesn’t matter if your audience is half way around the world, or half way across the office, you no longer control the information. Just as the days of waiting for primetime to see the results of Phelps vs. Lochte (right after these messages) seem be over, so do the days of employees eagerly waiting for the company meeting to hear the CEO-update to get the state of the organization. Everyone already knows, long before the executive team meets to discuss how do deliver the Q3 results, if things are going well or not. Everyone.
HR, now is the time to begin to prepare your organization for Workforce 2020 – more collaborative, more social, and more connected than ever before. That’s only TWO Olympics from now, but imagine how small the globe, and your company will feel by then! If this type of thinking is not part of your HR and HR technology strategy today, please contact me immediately. Would love to strike while the iron is HOT!
Now, for some of the more pithy Tweets that are causing a stir…
- In a wired world, tape delay ruins the possibility of global solidarity at one of the few moments that promise it. #NBCFail
- Context: NBC’s ideal viewer is someone who doesn’t get sports text alerts, doesn’t appointment stream or get on Twitter.
- I would if I didn’t already know the results. #NBCFail RT @NBCOlympics Tweet us who you are cheering for tonight in primetime! #Olympics
- Ryan Lochte could cure cancer during a race & NBC would air it 6 hours later with the cure portion removed for a Seacrest interview #NBCFail
- @NBC Delayed: BREAKING: Roman Emperor Theodosius bans Olympic Games, NBC delay to catch up shortly.
- @NBC Delayed: BREAKING: Orville and Wilbur Wright’s machine flies.
- @NBC Delayed: BREAKING: Muhammad Ali wins boxing Light Heavyweight gold medal in Rome
- @NBC Delayed: ON NBC NOW: Carl Lewis will, in likely his last Olympics, attempt to break the long jump world record and win gold
Another infusion of knowledge…