The internet and social media sites have been a great avenue to keep in touch with friends, family, create a presence for a small business, and take advantage of wide scale marketing for a relatively small investment compared to traditional paper media, radio and tv ads. Social networking has sky-rocketed in the past 5 years. Just think about Facebook. The creator is worth billions and they just made a movie about its creation. It’s everywhere and if you don’t have a Facebook page, you are now in the minority.
Head the warning, though. It’s a double edged sword.
Just ask WTC, Ironman, and the Marine Corps Marathon.
If you haven’t heard about the Ironman Access Program rise, and 24 hour fall, you might be living under a rock. Here’s a refresher on initial reaction and subsequent failure. The heralded WTC, holder of all things Ironman and a triathlon juggernaut, lived and died by social media on this gaff. In 24 hours, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and web sites were ablaze with the everyday triathletes condemning the WTC and Ironman for creating a perceived disparity between them and the wealthy competitors. WTC was forced to swallow some pride and recall the program.
Was it a lawsuit, injunction, newspaper review, TV response that played the hand? No. It was the internet. Bloggers such as Patrick at The Road, summed up his feelings, and with 155 public followers, his opinion was heard. Ray at DC Rainmaker added his take.
Recently the WTC was compelled to offer complimentary race entry to athletes that raced the Miami 70.3 Ironman. Triathletes took to online forums to display their disgust by the numbers, and WTC had to react.
It’s not only the triathlon world. The Marine Corps Marathon took place on October 31, and not without its own controversy. I well intentioned idea to track athletes real time at the event culminated in a phone application that anyone could sign up for. Problem was that it didn’t really work. Ray at DC Rainmaker discussed the fiasco on his blog. From that post you can see the viral reaction on Facebook, and due to the onslaught of comments, they had no choice but to refund the fee for the application to all that had purchased it. Without reaction, RaceMate and Marine Corps Marathon would have faced a tidal wave of endless bad press for indefinite amount of time.
Would any of these actions have been taken without such public reactions? Newspapers, radio and TV might have picked up a story or two, but in no way would thousands have been able to have a public voice. Letters could have been sent, but how would other athletes know who sent letters if WTC or Marine Corps Marathon would have put them in the round file and conveniently not acknowledged the complaints in public?
As long as Facebook and other avenues exist for private opinions to become public, we have a weapon to keep corporations in check. Keep your pens ready and stay vigilant!
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, and is a married father of two, owner of three dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001. Ryan is also the Kansas Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughs HERE. Contact Ryan at: email@example.com or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan
*All opinions expressed in this story are by the author and are not necessarily those of EMT.