At SochiReporter, we looked at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics (and Paralympics) as an important event that can move our site forward and attract more international users. I’m happy to say that our efforts have paid off with increased traffic and interest in the site.
During the Games, SochiReporter experienced a 350 percent increase in the number of European and North American visitors to the site. We also published several exclusive posts from Yuliya Talmazan, a Russian-speaker from Vancouver who works as an editor at NowPublic.
During the Olympics, Talmazan worked for NBC doing editorial research, and she also attended athletic events and other festivities during the Paralympic Games. I asked her to provide us with coverage of the Paralympics because they receive much less attention from global media. Having her on the ground during the Paralympics has given us some very unique content in all multimedia genres.
Also, beginning in February, SochiReporter changed its design to celebrate the Vancouver Games. The site’s new background image is focused on winter sports and mixes blue, violet and magenta. The images feature athletes and reporters together, and we think the softer background colors do a better job of letting users focus on the site’s content.
Changing the design is part of our marketing activities, and we plan to keep on introducing new background images in the future. My feeling is that it’s another way to tell a story and make the website more topical and relevant. For example, Google often alters its logo to celebrate holidays, and the iGoogle service allows people to customize their header. Twitter also allows users to choose from a wide range of skins, or to create their own.
Aside from the new background image, we introduced a new tagline for SochiReporter: “The news is me.” It was inspired by the well-known saying, “The law is me,” which was made by France’s Louis XIV, the Sun King, in the 17th century. The tagline reflects the new realities and conveys the idea of citizen journalism, which is at the core of SochiReporter.
On a related note, the Vancouver Games were notable for the presence of citizen media and social media. There themes were explored in recent articles and photo essays on MediaShift.
Thanks to our work on the Vancouver Games, I’ve been receiving emails from people in Europe and Northern America. They tend to be either students inquiring about an internship within SochiReporter, people writing a thesis about social media who are interested in getting to know more about SochiReporter, or folks working in new media who are interested in how social media is being integrated into the traditional media content structure. In the end, our work during the Vancouver Games has helped build the global dialogue around SochiReporter and social media in general.