Even before the London 2012 Summer Olympics were at the halfway mark, social media experts and marketers had proclaimed the event “the first social media Olympics.” This lofty prediction turned out to be dead-on. From gripes about tape delay and tweets about Gabby Douglas’ hair to rating the physiques of international diving stars and riffing on event advertisements, Twitter and Facebook served as the global hub to cheer, complain and kvetch about all things Olympic.
An article by David Bauder in the Huffington Post illustrates the power of social media over the Olympics games like this: “Twitter estimates there were more than 50 million tweets about the Olympics, at a pace of 80,000 per minute after Jamaica’s Usain Bolt won the gold medal in the 200-meter sprint. Facebook saw the number of fans of Olympic athletes soar: American gymnast Gabby Douglas had 14,358 followers on July 27 and 540,174 less than two weeks later.”
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. For more than 20 days in a row, most of the top Twitter trends were Olympics-related and Twitter became the instant news breaker for stories developing from London. Twitter’s “Trending Event” tag was also introduced to instantly inform users of an Olympic topic currently generating tweets. On Facebook, friends used the social media platform as a way to celebrate/commiserate wins and losses of their favorite athletes. Naturally, brands got a lot out of the social media-Olympic synergy, too. Sponsors like Adidas and McDonald’s used Twitter and Facebook to give inside Olympic scoop while pushing products. Non-sponsors got in on the conversation while cleverly chatted about the games — without breaking any of IOC’s strict branding laws, of course.
As social media evolves into a platform dedicated to sharing information and thoughts on what’s happening right now, events like the Olympics are a hotbed for engagement from both brands and individuals alike. Readers, did you tweet your way through this year’s Olympic Games, did you watch old-fashioned style or did the heavily-branded event turn you off completely? Give us some gold-medal quips and pearls of wisdom in the comments section below!