Every two years, the world comes together for what is one of the most amazing events in human history – The Olympics. With that event comes all the many ways to consume the cvast amounts of information generated from the games. Whether you check for updates on your smartphone or watch NBC’s (here in the US) or other network showing, there’s no mistaking the vast presence of social media that completely engulfs the Olympics every year.

You’ve probably even taken part in some of the social media frenzy, using hashtags like #olympics, #teamusa or maybe even #nbcfail, a trending hashtag that has brought the network’s mistakes or “fails” to light during the games on Twitter (i.e. A commercial showing US swimmer Missy Franklin winning the gold just before they aired her race).

If you haven’t been taking part in the Olympic social media frenzy, the athletes definitely have. Posting offensive tweets has resulted in a few Olympians getting kicked off their teams, and tweets between athletes and attendees have created online riots. One athlete even complained that she lost her event because of all the hype on social media saying that she was going to win the gold.

So what can a small business learn from all of the Tweeting, Posting and Hashtagging?

5 lessons we’ve learned from the Olympics Social Media craze

1. Think Before You Post 

Social media is instant. While you can delete a post after it’s already been sent out, you never know who has already seen it. When you don’t think before you post, you may end up bruising your brand. Sometimes we don’t realize the impact and consequences that our words can have over Twitter or Facebook, resulting in impulsive posts that don’t always send the right message.

Use a content plan to organize your posts so that you can meditate on them, run them by your fellow employees and have the chance to check them one more time before you post.

If something happens that isn’t on your content plan, run it by a few people before you throw it into the Twittersphere. You are the voice of your brand, you have the responsibility to maintain it.

2. You Are in Control of Your Brand and Reputation

When a crisis occurs in your business or industry, don’t blame social media. Be transparent with your audience, explain to them what happened and how you’re planning on addressing it.

The responsibility of your brand stability is up to your team.

3. When a Client/Customer has a Problem, Respond Quickly and Respectfully

Since customer service is a competitive differentiator, take it seriously. At the Olympics this year, hopeful spectators couldn’t obtain tickets to the games. When they saw that several seats were left empty, they went to Twitter and Facebook with their complaints, forcing Olympic organizers to address the issue publicly.

When you are closely monitoring social media, you have the ability to catch small issues before they become large ones. Social media has become a place for people to vent, and to find others to vent with. Don’t let this happen. Pay close attention to what’s going on, and if a problem does arise, address it as quickly and respectfully as possible. This helps keep your customer happy, it let’s people know that there’s an actual person on the other end of the screen and it sets a great example for others.

4. Don’t Trash Talk

One of the biggest issues with social media and the Olympics has been trash talking. US soccer goalie Hope Solo trashed Olympic commentator and former US soccer player Brandi Chastain over Twitter for comments she made during a match. Solo and Chastain are colleagues and represent the same country and sport. This was poor judgement on Solo’s part, and launched a Twitter fight.

Instead of bad mouthing your competitors or colleagues, focus on your own brand and what makes you stand out among the crowd.

5. Be a Leader

Despite the negative tweets and social media wars, there have been athletes who have managed to use these channels well. Gabby Douglas, Olympic gold medalist in women’s gymnastics, uses Twitter as a positive way to celebrate the games and congratulate fellow athletes.

Gabby’s attitude should be a model for a small business. Stay positive, be a leader and engage with your audience. Monitor your channels and trends in the social media world often, and make your voice known and recognizable. And remember to stay focused on your company’s goals. If you follow these rules, you have the ability to be a game changer in the Social Mediasphere and beyond.