The London 2012 Olympic Games will go down as the most social games of all time. A trend that started in 2008 with Beijing has exploded with London. Social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have reached a saturation point in our culture. These services have become an integral part of the coverage of the games, even giving us a glimpse into the minds of our favorite athletes. As of this writing, there are 2,014 verified Olympians (past & present) on Twitter at the games, according to the BBC.
The use of these services has become so commonplace that there are special pages set up for fans. There’s an Explore London 2012 Facebook page, a London Olympics hub set up by Great Britain and more. NBC’s coverage has links to their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. It’s clear that social media has arrived in a big way. These services have given fans unprecedented access to the world’s best athletes, and you no longer have to wait for a full news story for contest results when 140 characters start flying on Twitter.
What makes these services so appealing? Immediacy. Sometimes to the point of getting an athlete’s thoughts immediately after the competition ends:
I personally prefer hearing about a victory or a loss straight from the athlete, rather than a news story. I’m clearly not in the minority, since LeBron James is currently the most popular Olympic athlete with almost 18 million followers. This unfiltered access can also be a double-edged sword, just ask Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou, who was expelled from the games before competing for what was deemed a racist tweet. NBC has also caught the ire of the internet, with the hashtag #NBCfail recounting all the problems with US coverage of the events trending on Twitter.
Need any more proof of social media’s arrival at the games? Usain Bolt actually set the Twitter tweets per minute world record following his 200m victory:
If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that social media marketing and online reputation management are becoming increasingly important these days. Here’s a great infographic about what the largest Olympic sponsors are doing in this space:
For the full infographic about the increase in social media use from Beijing to London, click here. What did you think of these Olympics? How has social media played a role in your own Olympics viewing experience?