Consider it a last huzzah of Olympic fever. As the world struggles to get used to a life without constant concern over who was leading the pack on the medal table, or whether or not dreams would be dashed thanks to a last minute stumble on the parallel bars, Twitter quietly revealed the scope of the Internet’s obsession with the sixteen day sporting event – or, at least one part of the social media conversation.
“We saw more than 150 million Tweets about the Olympics over the past 16 days,” wrote the company’s manager of editorial programming Andrew Fitzgerald, in a post that appeared on the official Twitter blog last night, going on to add that “The biggest tweeting moments that came during the heat of competition (not at a medal-winning conclusion) included Kobe Bryant’s dunk towards the end of the USA-Spain basketball game, and Hope Solo’s (@HopeSolo) land-diving save in the women’s USA-Japan soccer match.”
In terms of specifics, Jamaican Uslan Bolt’s gold in the 200m sprint is already known to have broken records with more than 80,000 Tweets per minute, but his gold win in the 100m is not far behind, with 74,000 TPM. The next most popular Olympic moment comes from Brit Andy Murray winning the gold in the Men’s Tennis Singles (and in the process, beating his opponent from this summer’s Men’s Final at Wimbledon, Roger Federer), with more than 57,000 TPM, with Bolt returning for the fourth place; the Jamaican gold win in the Men’s 4x100M Relay received an average of 52,000 TPM. The highest American win came with Team USA beating Spain in the Men’s Basketball final; that reached an impressive 41,000 TPM.
(That the top four Tweeted events were non-American wins is surprising, at least to me, but also points to the success of Twitter as an international phenomenon and communication system, as well as the excitement surrounding individual athletes and stories within the Olympics. In short, it’s a kind of a great thing all ’round.)
Unsurprisingly, Uslan Bolt was also the most discussed Olympian during the sixteen day event, but Fitzgerald reported that he was joined by nine other athletes in making it to more than one million mentions on Twitter during the games (They are, in descending order, Michael Phelps, Tom Dale, Ryan Lochte, Gabby Douglas, Andy Murray, Kobe Bryant, Yohan Blake, Lee Chong Wei and LeBron James).
The most-Tweeted-about sport during the games? That would be soccer, again demonstrating the international flavor of the micro-blogging service, but perhaps the surprise of Twitter’s metrics was the most-Tweeted-about event of the entire 16-day span of the Olympics. It wasn’t anything to do with sports at all, but instead something far more important: ” It was the Spice Girls who stole the night, inspiring more than 116,000 Tweets per minute,” Fitzgerald explained, writing about the success of last night’s Closing Ceremony. The Spice Girls? Oh, Twitter, I expected more from you…