Every four years I settle in and enjoy the drama and spectacle of the Olympics. I have my own personal competition too, as I see how many people I can fool into thinking that I really know the scoring system in judo or the history of the heptathlon, or whatever is on the tube at the moment. I make it up as I go and see how long it takes before my friends realize I am full of crap. My record is nine minutes, 36 seconds of continuous bullshit. I know. You’re impressed, and you should be. I am already inviting a whole new crop of friends for the festivities. The excitement is building!
And while I have been training to best my personal mark, I’m also guessing another hallowed record is about to fall — Twitter volume. In fact, I think it is safe to say that Twitter may be transformed during this sustained period of athletic activity that captivates every corner of the world.
In the four years since the Beijing Games, use of social media platforms has surged and Twitter has grown from 6 six million users to about 150 million. And many more people now have smartphones and access to wi-fi so they can react immediately to something they have seen in a stadium, arena, court, pool, ring or velodrome. The London Games will be tweeted, tagged, liked, blogged, and hashtagged like no previous event in the world.
The Olympics will transform Twitter
- At trials in Calgary for Canada’s Olympic track and field team, athletes wore Twitter handles on their bibs – encouraging fans to send messages of support as they race!
- Time reports that the IOC, with 760,000 Twitter followers and 2.8 million on Facebook, is planning live chats with athletes from the Olympic village, allowing the public to pose questions using social media accounts. It has already created an online portal, called the Athletes’ Hub (shown above), which will collate posts from athlete Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- To give you some idea of the Olympian tweet volume we can expect, the AP reported that users sent 13,684 tweets per second during a Champions League soccer match between Barcelona and Chelsea in April, a record volume of tweets for a sporting event – busier even than the 2012 Super Bowl.
- That record will probably fall multiple times during the Games. Reportedly Twitter is braced for a surge of traffic.
But what I think is exciting is that Twitter is about to go global like never before as users sign up for the first time to follow their favorite athletes and event. Every single sport has its own Twitter handle and Twitter has been the social media platform of choice for most athletes too.
So I think Twitter will be transformed in the coming weeks, but …
Twitter will also impact the Olympics
- The Olympic Committee has created a list of hazy social media rules for participants (Content should “conform to the Olympic spirit”). Who will be the first athlete to break a rule in such a way that it becomes newsworthy or scandalous?
- Who will be the first athlete to tweet a photo from the medal stand?
- How will the broadcast of the Games incorporate real-time tweets from athletes and fans?
- What will be the first Olympic news event that breaks through Twitter?
- How will Twitter help solve problems and ease emergencies in new ways?
- Twitter will even help unsnarl traffic. A website, Get Ahead of the Games, provides tips for navigating the entire nation during the Olympics, including an app that projects traffic congestion, and a new Twitter account devoted to provide participants with real-time transportation help.
The next few weeks are going to provide a lot of excitement for sports fans but I think by the closing ceremonies, Twitter will also be one of the big winners from London 2012. What do you think?