The impact that Twitter had on the London 2012 Olympic games has had copious amounts of attention from various sources of media throughout the games. The social micro-blogging network has accommodated a newly intensified level of opinion diversity never really seen before at a global event of this kind. It is because Twitter has evolved into an opinion facilitating gargantuan, that it is increasingly intriguing to take a look into some of the statistics involved.
According to the official Twitter blog, the total number of tweets that in some way related to the London Olympics exceeded 150 million. This is a pretty staggering figure, especially considering that this data was taken from tweets posted over only a 16-day period. In sporting terms, the Olympics was defined by many mind-blowing achievements, disappointments and examples of personal sacrifice. The moments that were most talked about were measured by Twitter in terms of tweets per minute. Unsurprisingly, the athlete with both number one and number two spots in the table was Jamaican record-breaking sprinter Usain Bolt. Both his gold-medal winning performances in the 200m sprint and 100m sprint achieved over 80,000 and over 74,000 tweets per minute at the time. The top 3 most discussed athletes at the games overall were Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Tom Daley. All of the top ten most discussed athletes were tweeted about over one million times each.
A couple of standout incidents did however also highlight the naivety of some athletes using the social network. Both of these infamous moments of ‘social media hell’ involved racism, and led to both athletes being sent home by their respective nations. It seemed that despite this though, the majority of Olympic orientated tweets were in support of the athletes, and the games as a whole. This ‘general positivity’ may be of particular interest to some, especially when considering the amount of negative press circulating around the social networks in the time leading up to London 2012.
As the Olympics grew closer, I can remember the relatively high level of ‘anti-Olympics’ sentiment relating to the more controversial issues surrounding the games. These issues, such as the apparent ‘corporate dominance’ of the London 2012 Olympics seem to have been almost drowned out by the overwhelming amounts of positivity towards the Olympics as a whole.
One feature of the games that created particularly high levels of conversation were the opening and closing ceremonies, and in particular the individual performers within them. Twitter was experiencing more than 116,000 tweets per minute relating to the Spice Girls at one point (official Twitter blog). If the online conversation continues to grow, as it has done hugely since Beijing 2008, then trending topics in ‘Rio 2016’ will be both extensive in quantity, and volume as more people get connected to Twitter worldwide.