The 2012 London Olympics are officially over, the medal count tallied and athletes are returning home. While the U.S. topped the charts in overall and gold medals, and the U.K. scored more golds than ever before, the real story was how prominent a role social media played. In it’s nightly broadcast, NBC even had a segment that highlighted key activities that happened in the social sphere. It’s clear the “social olympics” were a success on many levels, so much so that increasingly, social measures are being applied to athlete and event popularity. Twitter now uses “tweets per minute” as an official benchmark for gauging consumer energy.
This NYTimes infographic is one of many superb data visualizations produced during the games. It shows the relative % gain in Twitter chatter of 140 Olympic athletes over the course of the games. It’s a small sampling, but the notable athletes are represented. The beauty is that because it’s relative gain over baseline, even lesser known athletes can stand out if they were able to generate conversation. Presumably, the conversation was about their performances in the games, but often it was the athletes themselves that stimulated conversation. From diving star Tom Daley outing a troll to athletes getting distracted on social media, it’s clear it played an important roll in their mindset.
For athletes that gained big new followings, it will be interesting to see how they use social media to interact with their new fans. Best to strike while the iron, er I mean gold is still hot.