LA 2024 spokesman explains bid's rapid rise in Facebook likes

Kevin Kaduk
Fourth-Place Medal
The LA 2024 Facebook page has 1 million followers, but are they real? (Facebook)
The LA 2024 Facebook page has 1 million followers, but are they real? (Facebook)

A lot of people in Pakistan and other places around the world are jazzed about the Olympics possibly returning to Los Angeles.

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That’s according to Jeff Millman, spokesperson for the LA 2024 Olympic bid, who insisted that any skepticism over the organization’s recent surge in Facebook likes is misplaced.

The official page for the LA 2024 recently went over “1 million fans from 200+ countries”, a milestone that was eagerly trumpeted by the committee’s social media staff on Monday.

But on Tuesday, the Associated Press ran a story saying  a lion’s share of followers appear to live closer to Islamabad than Inglewood. A social media firm hired by the AP  said the rapid rise in followers — roughly 700,000 new fans in six weeks after boasting only 209,000 at the end of 2016— was “suspicious.” Several outlets, including Fourth-Place Medal, also expressed their doubts.

Millman, however, says the bid’s explanation is a simple one. LA 2024 expanded its Facebook Ads campaign to an international targets on Feb. 3, the earliest date that Los Angeles and Paris could start courting international support for their competing bids.

The 2024 Games will be awarded by a vote of IOC members in September.

The rise in LA 2024’s followers came with the expansion of those ads. Millman said advertising on Facebook is more efficient in other countries because there is less competition from other brands.

Millman did not specify which countries were being targeted other than saying the list did not include the United State and France.

“This is an international political campaign,” Millman said from Denmark on Tuesday, where the LA delegation is making its case during a meeting of Olympic decision makers. “We are courting support from around the globe.”

French newspaper Le Figaro does not seem as convinced, Inside the Games reported. The paper reported that “fans from Bangladesh increased from 83 in January to 104,165 fans in April, while those in Pakistan went from 56 to 92,104 and those in Nepal from 71 to 78,515.”

Millman said that Facebook analytics show the accounts are real and were only obtained through targeted advertising on Facebook.

The AP also had their social media firm, Socialbakers, analyze the followings for the Paris 2024 page, which boasted about 62,000 likes at the end of 2016. Despite tripling that number in 2017,  AP reports the organization claims that four of five new likes come from within France.

Many of you may be asking: Who cares about how many followers each city has? Well, the race between Los Angeles and Paris is considered to be an especially close one. So close that something as seemingly irrelevant as Facebook followers can paint either city in a better light.

No matter where that light is shining from.

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