05/01/2012 07:20 pm ET Updated Jun 30, 2012

Why "Twitter Jail" Won't Work

Social Sports is near and dear to my heart. My company is betting on the power of social media to transform every aspect of the sports ecosystem from the fans, to the players, leagues, teams, and sponsoring brands.

These days the true winner is the player who realizes early in their career that the social platform they build may be just as important to their future as their ability to score points on the field. Same for those teams and leagues who are adjusting their communications strategies to welcome and leverage these new platforms as a way to expand their influence as well.

Yes, social sports is where future warriors are embracing change and quickly learning how to leverage it. Those who get it are killing it, on and off the field.

Passionate sports fans just can't get enough of their favorite teams and players. Just imagine getting a tweet from your favorite ball player. For the true fan, there is nothing more exciting.

That's why we applaud the fact that Tiger Woods held his latest 'press conference' without any press present. It all occurred on social media platforms. As reported in Mashable, "An athlete of Woods' stature taking to social media in place of, and not just to complement, traditional media interviews is a big step."

A jaw-dropping step, in fact. Clearly, the opportunity for sports figures to have direct connection and interaction with fans is irresistible on both sides.

But if you're a London 2012 Olympic Games athlete, or spectator, or even a bystander, and you 'take to social media' you might end up in Twitter Jail. Not really, of course, but kind of close.

According to tickets' entry terms for event spectators: "Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the Internet more generally."

I agree that protecting licensing and sponsorship rights is not only paramount but the absolute right thing to do. However, according to the entry terms above, it sounds like posting your pictures to Facebook (or Pinterest?) may prompt a visit from the brand police and land you in Twitter Jail.

Squashing the socialogue and enthusiasm may actually backfire in London 2012. Do we really think that the IOC will disqualify a rising volleyball star if she Tweets about drinking Pepsi? (Coca Cola is the main softdrink sponsor.)

Time to join the conversation. Because those who don't, like the big media reporters expecting access to Tiger prior to his next PGA Tour appearance, will soon be hearing crickets.

Beverly Macy is the CEO of Gravity Summit, and co-author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. She also teaches Executive Global Marketing and Branding and Social Media Marketing for the UCLA Extension. Email her at