- Patrick Dorsey, Editor, ESPN.com
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London 2012 was a spectacularly social Olympics, with fans in attendance, fans overseas, athletes on site and individual nations and teams joining in.
Naturally, Team USA -- and its prolific medal count -- was right there, sharing not only news but also photos. On Twitter. On Facebook. And of course, on Instagram, with an account created just a month before the opening ceremonies.
We caught up via email with U.S. Olympic Committee coordinator of social media Maura Cheeks, who from London gave some insight as to how Team USA (@teamusa) served its 87,000-plus followers -- more than 45,000 of whom joined up during the Games.
#London2012 Opening Ceremony!
What did you hope to achieve on Instagram during the Olympics?
Given that the Team USA Instagram account was so new ... there was significant potential for growth. The hope was that Instagram would bring another dynamic to what everyone was calling the first “Social Games” and would offer us the opportunity to bring fans even closer to the Olympic Movement.
Unlike other sporting events, the majority of people may never have the opportunity to attend the Games so for social, we really wanted to be able to introduce our followers to as many different aspects of London 2012 as possible. This included posting behind-the-scenes images, featuring action and portrait shots of athletes, and highlighting significant moments.
Because the Olympic Games are so different from any other event, you can really get creative with the types of images you post and can think outside of the box. Instagram was not only a great way to tell the story of London 2012 in and of itself, it also fueled engagement on our other platforms including Twitter and Facebook.
Congrats Michael! #london2012 #usaswimming #phelps
(Note: This was one of Team USA's most popular photos, with more than 21,000 likes on Instagram and, when posted on Facebook, more than 158,000 likes there.)
Congrats to #usabasketball! @cp3 @carmeloanthony @mindofai9 @kingjames @kevinlove @dwill8 @trey5 @russwest44
Who contributed to the feed?
Our intern Connor Nolte is the main contributor to our Instagram account. Our feed is a mix of photos that he creates and enhances using Photoshop and other applications, along with photos that I send to him and collect from others in our organization. Before London, we encouraged all members of the United States Olympic Committee who would be on the ground to email their photos. ... That way we were able to curate a wide variety of behind-the-scenes shots that we might have otherwise missed out on.
Today's Medal Moments! #usatf #usacycling #usagymnastics @kelliewellz @alyraisman
WOW #teamusa #usagymnastics @alyraisman @jordyn_wieber @gabbydoug2012 @kyla_ross96
Ryan #Lochte brought home our first Gold Medal! Thoughts on his grill?
So what's next for @teamusa?
After London 2012, there will definitely be a change in the types of images we post. Initially you will see images of the Paralympic Games, which begin on August 29, as well as London 2012 medalists who we are profiling for follow-up stories on the Team USA YouTube channel. Additionally, we’ll begin integrating behind-the-scenes images of Sochi 2014 preparation.
Faces of the 2012 @usparalympics team! #teamusa #london2012
Countdown to Sochi
All images courtesy of Team USA.