Social Media and the Olympics – The Trends for 2012

olympic twitter
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You can’t turn on the TV, sign onto the Internet, grab coffee in the break room, or possibly take a shower without hearing about the Olympics. Everyone has Olympic fever, from the Opening Ceremonies to Michael Phelps’ record-setting 19th Olympic medal win. So it’s no surprise that the Olympics are a constant source of conversation on social media sites.

Here’s the rundown on the latest Olympics social media trends:

  1. Twitter trumps Facebook. 97% of all online conversations about the opening ceremony happened on Twitter, leaving Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms in the dust. The most popular trending topic? #RowanAtkinson. Who doesn’t love Mr. Bean?
  2. No more Mr. Nice Guy (or Girl). The International Olympics Committee thought the online conversation at the “first social media Games” would be all warm and fuzzy. They couldn’t have been more wrong. U.S. women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo used Twitter to rant against former Olympian and NBC analyst Brandi Chastain (who then got in on the action). But the most ironic Twitter rants are coming from Olympians that are tweeting their displeasure with Rule 40 of the Olympic charter, which places restrictions on their social media activity.
  3. If everyone on Twitter thinks I’m going to win, then I will, right? Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm set a new Olympic record in qualifying for the 100m backstroke. She received a shower of congratulations and praise on Twitter and Facebook. Then, she narrowly lost the gold medal. Her reaction? “When they tell you a thousand times you are going to get it, somewhere in your mind you are just like, ‘I’ve done it.”
  4. But I recorded that! Many people are now avoiding social media at all costs because it’s rife with spoilers. Most of us have to work all day and can’t watch the games live, opting instead to record our favorite events and watch them at night. But people around the world are watching, and they’re tweeting, too. If you don’t want to know who won the women’s preliminary basketball events today, stay away from trending topics on Twitter.
  5. It’s either social media or live TV coverage. You choose. Heavy use of smartphones actually interfered with live television coverage of cycling races. The enormous amount of cell traffic overwhelmed GPS location transmitters signals attached to the racers’ bicycles and TV commentators were unable to receive real-time locations of the riders. The International Olympic Committee’s response? “Please kind of take it easy” with the social media posts.

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