London 2012: A Social Olympics
The London 2012 Olympic Games aimed to be the first truly social media Olympics. Many had doubts after London 2012 organisers restricted social media use of volunteers but the Games certainly didn’t disappoint. Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have been a central part of many breaking stories during London 2012. Even on the first day heading into the Opening Ceremony there were more Tweets about the Olympics in a single day than during the entire Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
Millions of comments were made on social media about the Opening Ceremony, with the vast majority showering Danny Boyle with praise over his efforts of the event. Up to 1 billion people worldwide watched the Opening Ceremony and it peaked at 26.9 million in the UK alone.
The ceremony also gave birth to the hashtag #NBCfail as criticisms of the USA's broadcast coverage began to emerge. People were enraged to find out that a special tribute to 9/11 had been edited out of the U.S. broadcast of the Opening Ceremony and because NBC decided to keep certain events for prime time slots, this meant many of the Games weren’t shown live. Because of the many people taking to social media during the Games, this would often mean Americans would find out the results before it had even aired in their country.
The British journalist Guy Adams had his Twitter temporarily suspended as he Tweeted the email address of NBC Olympics president, Gary Zenkel, telling people to email him their complaints. The story took on a life of its own on social media with many backing Guy. Twitter later reinstated his account with an apology.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), just one day into the Games had Mark Adams, head of communications ask Tweeters to limit their usage on their mobile as GPS signals were negatively impacting radio-frequency identification chips on cyclists bikes at the road race.
A blog on Twitter stated that over the past 16 days the social networking site saw more than 150 million Tweets about the Olympics. The biggest winners in terms of Tweets per minute (TPM) included Usain Bolt when he won the 200m final (80,000 TPM), again in the 100m final (74,000 TPM), Andy Murray winning gold in the men’s singles Tennis finals against Roger Federer (over 57,000 TPM) and when Jamaica won the 4x100m men’s relay in a new world record time (over 52,000 TPM). The Phelps-Lochte showdown was another huge moment, with 25,000 Tweets per minute about the end of their race.
Not only can Usain Bolt be content with his double-triple win, he also won the record for being the most discussed athlete of the Games. Other athletes that surpassed the million Tweets were:
1. Usain Bolt
2. Michael Phelps
3. Tom Daley
4. Ryan Lochte
5. Gabby Douglas
6. Andy Murray
7. Kobe Bryant
8. Yohan Blake
9. Lee Chong Wei
10. LeBron James
Finally, the Closing Ceremony, which looked at the best of British music, recieved a mixed reaction from viewers. The ceremony saw a peak of 26.3m in the UK tuning in to see the closing of the 30th Olympaid. Both the opening and closing ceremonies drove a large amount of Twitter conversation, and experienced their own giant spikes in Tweets per minute.
London 2012 was a spectacular fortnight for British sport and I’m not going to lie, now that it’s all over I don’t know what to do with myself. Hurry up Rio 2016!
Do you think London 2012 was the first truly social media Olympics?
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