Record levels of tickets were sold, and demand for tickets exceeded all expectations. But many people are also staggered at how Social Media came into its own over the Summer, with more tweets and Facebook posts about the games than ever before.
In many ways that’s hardly surprising because users of Facebook and Twitter have increased significantly since the Beijing 2008 Games. Nevertheless, the conversational nature of Twitter brought an additional human dimension to coverage of the events. I also enjoyed seeing countless photos of families and people I know posing at the Olympic Park – with many of them striking Usain Bolt’s now famous pose.
And we didn’t hold back with our use of Social Media. According to Twitter, there were 150 million Olympic related tweets sent over the 16 day period, with Usain Bolt’s 200m victory alone seeing 80,000 tweets per minute. What’s more, 40% of all Britons online visited the official London 2012 website, which is an incredible number whatever way you look at it.
And according to figures from Neilsen, the London 2012 Games featured in 19% of all Social Media conversations on 27th July – the day of the opening ceremony. There were also more tweets about the Olympics on that single day than during the entire duration of the Beijing 2008 Games.
The point of this post though is not to spout statistics; we can take it as read that Social Media played a massive part in enriching the overall experience of the games.
But for me, one of the most valuable ways that Social Media ignited the Games, was how it connected athletes to ordinary people. Before the Games, there were stories that athletes were going to be banned from tweeting and using Social Media, but right from the moment that they started checking into the Olympic village we knew that we were going to be treated to wonderful behind-the-scenes glimpses into their world.
What was particularly heartening for me, came at this week’s special parade of athletes in London. Many of our new Olympic and Paralympic heroes were interviewed by radio and TV, and it struck me how many of them said how amazed they were that people – many of them children, had been inspired by their performances, and that through Social Media they had been able to express that directly to them.
Nicola Adams was the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for boxing and is now widely seen as a role model for a new generation. Nicola told an interviewer that people had tweeted her saying that "she had inspired them to take up sport". And Jason Kenny the track cyclist said that people had been tweeting him telling him how excited they were that they had just bought a new bike.
With all the talk about which Brands had won Gold in the ‘Socialympics’, it was great to hear the human side of how Social Media played its part in the Games – connecting people to each other and to their sporting heroes.
And that surely is what Social Media is all about? (There’s a clue in the title: Social.)
Many of the Brands sponsoring the Games gained many new followers, but also failed where it really counted – engaging with people. According to Unmetric (a social benchmarking company), despite posting almost 11,000 times (the highest of any sponsor), Coca-Cola were failing to engage followers - whilst the most engaging sponsor was Omega, who posted just 37 times.
There’s a lot to be said for the numbers game and having a high number of followers, but ultimately it’s what you do with them and how you engage with them that really counts.
As to whether you can truly inspire them and change their life is another matter entirely.