#Sochi vs. #Sochifail - an Olympic Social Media Crisis

Since Thursday, the whole world has focused its attention on Sochi, Russia - located on the Black sea coast 25 miles from the Georgian border. Not long after the first gold medal winners had been handed out, the 2014 Winter Olympics began facing  serious social media turmoil; Sochi highlights have been focused more on “Sochi fails” than the athletic performances.

Only five days after the official opening ceremony and despite the seven page long Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines issued from the Olympic Committee, Sochi is already experiencing a serious social media crisis. Social media outreach proves to be more powerful than government regulations as numerous social media accounts have emerged behind the scenes publishing negative updates about the Sochi Olympics. Accounts such as @sochiproblems or @sochifailure have even acquired more buzz than the official accounts by over 118 thousand followers.

@SochiProblems is the most famous twitter handle regarding the Winter Olympics, and ironically has only existed for the past 6 days. Created by a 20 year old Canadian journalism student, the Twitter account highlights tweets, primarily from journalists on the site, about the logistical problems of the games.


The founder behind the official @SochiProblems handle is Alex Broad.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.41.35 AM

The comparison of the follower count of the official Sochi Twitter account (green) and SochiProblem (blue).

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.51.48 AM

Similar accounts also appeared on Facebook and the hashtag #sochifails has been used over 1,095 times with a total reach of 2,454,600 on Twitter alone (source: Keyhole).

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.37.48 AM

As for now, we anxiously  await an official response from the Sochi Social Media team. Let's hope they are able to twist it around like J.C.Penney did at the Super Bowl, although this remains to be seen.

One brand was able to react in real time; Airbnb jumped on the #SochiProblems hashtag and offered journalists, who complained on Twitter about their hotel room conditions, apartments in Sochi. The SFChronicle reported in detail about Airbnb’s outreach.

We will continue monitoring the social media news around Sochi and will keep you updated about the latest buzz.

In the meantime, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you know what people say about your brand online?

Are you prepared for a social media crisis?

Could you react in real time?