Every four years not-only-sports enthusiasts celebrate the biggest sport event in the world. This year the Olympic Games took place in London, where during 16 days we could witness over 10.000 athletes from more than 200 countries competing in over 30 venues across the UK. Medals, awarded during a total of 302 Victory Ceremonies, were what every athlete attempts to win. Until London 2012, this was mostly what the Olympic Games were all about. Something different happened this time around…
It was not only about winning gold, silver or bronze in the finals. It was about sharing each second of the Games from day one to the closing ceremony.
The 2012 London Summer Olympics have been called the first “Social Media Olympics” because they were the first Games since the explosion of the global number of social media users, tablets and smartphones. The organizers wanted to promote the Olympics like it was never done before, so they have installed 30 Wi-Fi posts in the Olympic Park itself to enable the public sharing millions of photos, text messages, calls, wassups and, of course, tweets.
During the opening ceremony on July, 27th over 9.66 million tweets were generated, as claimed by the network, way more than the total number of tweets sent during the entire Olympics in Beijing in 2008. To be fair, it needs to be mentioned that in 2008 Twitter had less than 20 million users around the world, whereas now it has over 500 million registered users, including 170 million active members of the network.
According to Twitter, over 150 million Tweets about the Olympics were generated during those 16 days of sport competitions; this only shows how integrated Twitter had become with the Olympics but also the amazing power of this channel and how in the four years since Beijing Games the number of social media users exploded.
As opposed to Twitter, Facebook did not share many statistics/numbers as far as its integration with London 2012 Games is concerned. While Twitter registered up to 80 000 140-characters tweets sent per minute (when Usain Bolt was winning his gold medal in the 200m), the world’s biggest social network focused on providing users with countless pictures, comments and interesting content not only on the main page of the event but also on the athletes’ pages, some of whom, as The Telegraph reports, gained hundreds of thousands of followers during the Games.
It appears that the spectators were no longer just watching the Games but participating in the entire event by creating their individual content shared with the rest of the users. It also seems that, what Venturepreneurs predicted the upcoming tech trends to be, is what we have witnessed during the Olympics. The presence of tablet computers and smartphones inside and outside of the Olympic Park enabled direct connections between athletes and fans through social networks and blogs, whereas available mobile apps provided users with a lot of additional information, encouraged them to follow events, track athletes’ performances and play Olympic themed games, among others.
The amount of information transmitted online during the Olympic Games period was not only coming from the Olympic venues but also from the average Joe’s sofa. The Venturepreneurs knew the second screen viewing trend was coming, and they were right about it. Viewers connected to the Internet (via tablet computer, laptop or mobile) while watching sports and were able to comment, share content and send photos relating to the events they were seeing on TV in real time. This enhanced participation of the spectators was what made them feel as if they were also taking part in the Olympics.
Way before London’s Olympic flame faded away it had been slowly replaced by the buzz of the upcoming 2014 Winter Games in Sochi (the hosts included the url of the website into the Olympic logo already) and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, that according to their official website “have already started”. We just have to wait and see how far the evolution of the technology goes and if we will be able to compare social media statistics with this year’s numbers so that we can post them on our blog in 2 and in 4 years’ time or, who knows?, maybe we will discover new technologies, tools and (social) networks and analyze them for the first time. Either way…challenge accepted!