The “Socialympics”: I don’t think the Greeks saw this coming

Posted by Albers Communications on July 31, 2012 |

Even before the flash and awe of the opening ceremonies, the London Olympics had been dubbed the first “social media Olympics,” or “Socialympics.” Now that the games have begun, we are getting a better sense of how people are actually using social media to talk with friends, acquaintances and people across the globe about the Olympics.

“Twitter was the most popular social network for talking about the Olympic Opening Ceremony, with 97 per cent of all mentions happening on the microblogging site,” reported The Telegraph. The biggest spike in mentions came when Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) took the stage with the London Symphony Orchestra.

It has been four long years since the Beijing Olympics, which in social media time might as well be a hundred. While social media definitely played a role in 2008, London is an entirely different ball game. Just think, Mom and Grandma weren’t on Facebook in 2008 and now they’re posting Team U.S.A. status updates with the best of them.

“At the last Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008, Twitter had about 6 million users and Facebook 100 million. Today, the figure is 140 million for Twitter and 900 million for Facebook,” reports Bloomberg Businessweek. Google+ was just a whisper in a Mountain View office and YouTube enjoyed only 133 million daily views. Sound like a lot? Not compared to the 4 billion it now sees every day.

Another big difference this year also lies in the fact that millions more people have a smartphone in hand, enabling tweets and tags from the mall and grocery store. People can keep up with the meters and medal counts without being tethered to lengthy Olympic TV broadcasts. In addition, athletes brought their own smartphones and laptops with them to London, creating engagement with fans like never before.

The downside is the social media spoiler effect, which most of us have experienced before when a friend posts the score of a football game on Facebook or reveals the plot of the new summer blockbuster before you are able to watch.

With London five hours ahead of New York City, there’s no way to completely avoid the spoiler effect. It has been an issue in previous games. However, as a colleague pointed out, with the prevalence of social media and constant status updates about Lochte and Phelps, it is becoming harder and harder to turn a blind eye to results this summer.

How have you been using social media to follow the 2012 Summer Olympics?




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