Like so many people, I have been inspired by the London Olympics this year. I follow few sports other than tennis, but have found the surge in interest over the past few weeks contagious from day 1. And what a few weeks they have been.
A few people I know have compared the 2012 events to their Beijing equivalents. So what characterised these games? For some, these games brought women to the forefront of modern sporting achievement. For others, it was the volunteers, the ‘green’ Olympic success, the ‘Peoples’ Games’ that were the most prominent differences.
For me, what made London 2012 the ‘Peoples’ Games’ was unquestionably the impact of social media. Through these online channels, athletes and the media brought the Olympic Games to the world.
At the Opening Ceremony two weeks ago, Danny Boyle’s plea to ‘save the surprise’ set things up nicely. With the world’s press ready to pounce on any available leaks, #savethesurprise would be one of the first hash-tags to trend about nothing.
After the 200m mens’ final, Usain not only Bolt-ed to the finish line, he also set a new record on Twitter with more than 80,000 tweets per minute as he took another gold medal for Jamaica.
The games have also been a chance to leverage the potential of newer and lesser known social media platforms. Starcount, for instance, has proved rather interesting in charting the success of the sports stars of today. Every day in the past few weeks, Team GB increased their YouTube views by approximately 10,000, their Facebook fans again by tens of thousands, and Twitter followers by 5,000 odd. Even fans on Google+ have increased significantly. And this on a channel of largely ‘inactive’ users.
With presenters, athletes, performers and teams all on these networks, London 2012 was also the most ‘mobile’ games yet according to Alex Balfour (LOCOG). Whilst demographics using these channels vary, the ‘Socialympics’ reached the world… and counting…