PARIS -- Citius, altius, fortius? LOL.
At the Olympic Games in London, set to begin this month, the official motto of ''swifter, higher, stronger'' will be supplemented by a new label. If some marketers, fans and athletes have anything to say, these Games will be the first Social Media Olympics -- the ''Socialympics,'' as some are calling them. Even the Olympic movement, which sometimes steps into the future with great caution, has warily accepted the idea.
As befits an event surrounded by superlative athletic, logistical and marketing feats, there is a bit of exaggeration in this description. The biggest social media platforms have been around for several previous Olympics, including the Beijing Summer Games of 2008 and the Vancouver Winter Games of 2010. Twitter was founded in 2006, YouTube in 2005 and Facebook in 2004. Broadly defined, social media go back even further: Blogging dates at least to the 1990s.
But every Olympics needs a story line, preferably a ''first.'' Thus, the Athens Games of 2004 took the Olympic movement back to its ancient home. The Beijing Games carried the torch to a large, previously untapped market. In Britain, a midsize country that has been host to the Games before and where people's enthusiasm for the event appears to be lukewarm, there is a new narrative.
''Just as every new election is now called a social media election, every Olympics is now a social media Olympics,'' said Stanislas Magniant, a social media expert at MSLGroup, a public relations agency, in Paris. ''But this is going to be vastly bigger in scale and magnitude.''
There are several reasons for this. First, summer Olympics are much more widely followed than their winter counterparts, so the Vancouver Games did not register in the same way in the social media stakes.
And uncertainty about Chinese censorship of the Internet may have curbed social media activity before and during the Beijing Games.
In the four years since the Beijing Games, use of social media platforms has surged. Facebook has gone from about 100 million active users to about 900 million, Twitter from six million to about 150 million. Many more people now have smartphones, so they can react immediately to something they have seen in a stadium, arena, court, pool, ring or velodrome. Clearly the London Games will be tweeted, tagged, liked, blogged, mashed and rehashed like no previous Olympics.
All of this has created opportunities for the Olympic organizers, sponsors, participants and spectators. At the Beijing Games, the Olympics organizers did not even have a coordinated social media presence. This time around, there is an ''Olympic Athletes' Hub,'' to help fans find and follow competitors' Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. The International Olympic Committee also has its own Twitter account and Facebook page, as well as separate areas for the public and the news media.
''We are at a dawn of a new age of sharing and connecting, and London 2012 will ignite the first conversational Olympic Games, thanks to social media platforms and technology,'' Alex Huot, the I.O.C.'s head of social media, said via e-mail.
Athletes have taken to Twitter and Facebook with considerable enthusiasm. Rare is the Olympic competitor who does not have a Twitter account, monitored and updated 24 hours a day, either in person or via an agent.
Olympic sponsors are perhaps even more active. Take Procter & Gamble, the giant producer of a range of consumer products. P.&G. has unleashed a far-ranging social media initiative, as part of a broader marketing campaign called ''Thank You, Mom,'' which highlights the behind-the-scenes roles that mothers play in the lives of Olympic athletes -- and in the lives of lesser mortals.
While the campaign began with a television advertisement, it quickly developed into a social media phenomenon. The video of the ad has been watched 25 million times on YouTube and other online video sites, the company says; separate ''momumentaries,'' featuring individual Olympic mothers' stories, have been viewed seven million times. A Facebook application lets people upload content and send thank-yous to their own mothers.
''For a brand that has spent shedloads of money to sponsor the Olympics, how they activate that is a critical question,'' said Anthony Burgess-Webb, a founder of Sociagility, an agency in London that analyzes brands' social media activities. The company has created a ''London 2012 Social Scoreboard ,'' showing how the Olympic sponsors stack up, according to a variety of marketing criteria; P.&G. has been consistently on top. ''Clearly any marketer would be dumb to miss the social media piece.''
All this sharing and connecting has also created some new headaches. There is grumbling, for instance, about the restrictions that the organizers of the Games have imposed on this most freewheeling of media formats.
Local Olympic organizing committees always go to great lengths to protect sponsors, who sometimes shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to associate their brands with the Games, from so-called ambush marketing by companies that try to get free rides. Sometimes, as in the case of the London Games, special legislation is enacted.
This time, the guidelines include provisions for social media, detailing what marketers may and may not do. Among the banned actions are the use of certain word combinations in social media content: Nonsponsors have been warned not to try putting, say, ''twenty-twelve'' and ''gold'' in the same tweet.
Athletes and spectators face restrictions, too. Neither will be permitted to post video footage of sporting events to online forums. Participants are allowed to post on blogs or Twitter, but the postings must be in a ''first-person, diary-type format and should not be in the role of a journalist,'' the guidelines state.
''They must not report on competition or comment on the activities of other participants or accredited persons, or disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organization,'' the rules say.
Even before the Games have gotten under way, some athletes have gotten in trouble. Two Australian swimmers, Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk, were disciplined by their country's swimming team after they posted a picture on Facebook in which they posed with weapons during a visit to a gun shop in the United States. They were banned from using social media during the Olympics and were told that they would be sent home immediately after their events.
Will the organizers be able to enforce the guidelines when the Games get under way, with millions of Twitter messages, Facebook postings and other activity taking place in real time, on a global scale?
Mr. Magniant said the organizers would probably have to focus on the most blatant violations, like user-generated videos showing substantial portions of an event, thereby undermining official television coverage. They might have to turn a blind eye to some transgressions -- not least because they want to encourage fans to get involved.
''It's a difficult line to walk,'' he said. ''It's an all-out social media effort, but it's a very controlled effort.''
This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.
PHOTO: The Olympic Athletes' Hub site will help fans locate athletes' proliferating social media accounts.