What Team GB’s Tom Daley, Gemma Gibbons and Paul Drinkhall can teach us about the first social media Games
London 2012 has been widely described as ‘the first social media Games’ and the way in which Team GB athletes used Twitter to connect directly with their fans and increase their marketability was almost as interesting as the battles for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.
To better understand this phenomenon, at Inferno we decided to collaborate with Leaderboarded.com on a study of the Twitter activity of all 337 Team GB athletes who used the site during the duration of the Olympic Games and ranking British Olympians on Twitter ‘popularity’, ‘largest percentage growth’ and ‘talkativeness’ threw up some fun and interesting stats.
Team GB’s Gemma Gibbons – who surpassed all expectations to reach the final of the judo under 78kg category, and dedicated her silver medal to her mother who died of leukaemia – won gold on the Team GB Largest Percentage Growth medal table.
She saw her Twitter followers grow by 5371% during the Games. It wasn’t the largest leap in followers, but it was the largest percentage growth and a gigantic gain for Gemma Gibbons’ social media footprint.
The Silver medal went to Kristian Thomas who won Bronze in the team gymnastics. He saw his follower numbers increase by 3942% with bronze going to Max Whitlock who won a bronze medal as part of the men’s gymnastics team saw his follower numbers increase by 3699%.
On Inferno’s Leaderboarded medal table of most popular Team GB Twitter Olympians it’s perhaps no surprise that Team GB diving bronze medalist and London 2012 poster boy Tom Daley secured gold for having the most Twitter followers at the end of the Olympic closing ceremony. His total of 1,388,390 Twitter followers easily trumped triumphant tennis player Andy Murray who struck silver in second place with 1,117,820 followers.
Team GB’s girl of the games, heptathlete Jessica Ennis takes the bronze having amassed 643,438 Twitter followers by the end of the closing ceremony: a near three-fold increase in her number of followers during the Games.
Amusingly, the Inferno Leaderboarded medal table of Team GB’s ‘Most Talkative’ Twitter Olympians gave less well-known athletes a chance to shine since the category simply measured Team GB’s Twitter users on the number of tweets they made during the Games.
Paul Drinkhall who reached the third round of the men’s table tennis singles – before losing to Germany’s world No12 Dimitrij Ovtcharov – secured the gold medal for Team GB’s ‘Most Talkative’ Twitter Olympian. He chalked up a phenomenal 748 personal tweets across the seventeen days of the Games, an average of 44 tweets each day!
Karina Bryant, who won bronze in the women’s +78kg judo, came second thanks to an impressive 593 tweets – an average of more than 34 tweets per day – whilst Colin Oates, who achieved seventh in the under 66kg judo category took the bronze thanks to 505 tweets.
All 337 Team GB athletes on Twitter shared their highs and lows, hopes, dreams and experiences with sports fans all over the world thanks to social media during the Games. Whether household names or less heralded Olympians, London 2012 was truly the first social media Olympiad and showed how Olympic success allied to regular tweeting can make individuals into real overnight stars on social media.
Tim Doust is founding partner at integrated advertising agency Inferno Group.