Not only has the Rio Olympic Games been a momentous event for Team GB, it’s highlighted the absolute ascendancy of social media – and in particular, Twitter, in these shared experiences. Where once you might have sat up late to watch an event, noting perhaps a light on next door or over the road, and cheered on your team’s success with the cat, Twitter has given us the opportunity to feel part of a huge community, a worldwide sports stadium – to feel the roar of the global crowd…
187 million Tweets #Rio2016
Twitter’s statisticians and analysts have been having a field day bringing the headline stats from the Olympics to us – and why not, given the dominance of the platform. Over 187 million tweets were sent about the Games, using the hashtag #Rio2016, leading to 78 billion impressions.
Tweets per minute
The most tweeted moment, measured in tweets per minute, was footballer Neymar Jr’s penalty kick in the shootout against Germany securing gold for the Brazilian football team, closely followed by Usain Bolt’s 100m gold, and although Bolt & Neymar were 2 of the most talked about sportsmen, in Twitter terms, of the Games, top spot went to Michael Phelps , who was the most mentioned athlete on Twitter during the games.
Rio 2016 was a huge hit for Facebook too. The platform has changed immeasurably since London 2012, so a ‘like for like’ comparison of Olympic activity on Facebook would be all but impossible. Saying that, the fact that Facebook secured the exclusive news of Michael Phelps’ retirement, rather than broadcast rights holder, NBC, speaks volumes for the ascendancy of social media generally. Through the course of the Rio Olympics, Facebook hosted more than 1.5 billion likes, posts, comments and shares of the action. Mashable calculated that means 5 interactions on average for each Facebook user.
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) August 16, 2016
Instagram boasted nearly 2.5 million posts about #Olympics – the power of the celebrity/sports star selfie rode high in the popularity stakes as Simone Biles met Zac Efron, yet the most popular Olympic Instagram moments, back to Bolt and Neymar, secured 7 figure ‘likes’.
A ti, toda honra e toda glória A photo posted by Nj neymarjr (@neymarjr) on
Of course, Phelps and Bolt are household names given their ongoing dominance in their fields. Closer to home though, Team GB has provided us with plenty of golden moments during the Rio Olympics, and Twitter has been an integral part in bring the experience over the Atlantic and back to us in a way that TV never can.
An event like the Olympics is a great showcase for the power of the hashtag. Hashtags allow us to connect; to listen and communicate with others interested in the same endeavours. Twitter was awash with exhausted UK based tennis fans and Team GB supporters urging Andy Murray to hurry up his tennis final so they could go to bed – and yet Murray himself was on the court. Murray has a Twitter account (@andy_murray if you haven’t already found him) but doesn’t often tweet himself. Yet search #AndyMurray and you’ll need hours to wade through all the tweets about him.
Here to stay
The point is, the crucial takeaway, if there is one, from the Olympics and social media usage, is that social media is here to stay. Not only that, but it is dominant in the way people live their lives. Twitter might have facilitated global communication, reaction and interaction, but every platform offered users a place to share their elation, disappointment, enthusiasm – or boredom – with the proceedings. Social media is simply speaking, the way more and more people are choosing to communicate. It allows access to a wider community of people – likeminded people, people supporting the same individuals, teams, brands, ideals, beliefs as they do, and only a fool would ignore this.