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Who’s winning in the race for Team GB social (media) gold?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
6 August 2012

As we enter Week 2 of the games, we’ve been keeping a very close eye on how the world of social media has been reacting to events here in London. One of the most interesting ‘effects’ we’ve observed has been the rise (and occasional fall) of some of the competing athletes’ social profiles, particular Twitter – where some of the most prominent games discussions have been taking place.

As many predicted, these have truly been the first social Olympics – from the #SaveTheSurprise excitement of the opening ceremony previews, through Tim Berners-Lee tweeting in front of over a billion people, right up to drama surrounding Tom Daley’s ‘troll‘ incident. As the Huffington Post point out, the IOC will almost certainly need to address the changing nature of social media in time for the next games.

But moving away from the wider impact of social media on the Olympics, how are the athletes themselves benefiting from the adulation shown by the spectators and audiences alike?

As well as monitoring which National teams have been generating the most buzz in our Socialympics Medal Table, we’ve been watching our own Team GB athletes over the course of the games – and the results are very impressive!

Naturally some of the more popular athletes who had prominent profiles before the games (Andy Murray for example!) have seen less off a meteoric rise, so we’ve taken a look at a wide spread of factors – and below are some of the more interesting changes.

[The following figures are based on the Twitter follower volumes of the 384 Team GB athletes with public (and easily verified) Twitter accounts, comparing figures between 27th July - the day of the opening ceremony - and yesterday, August 5th]

Here’s the Top 10 Athletes by Twitter growth (percentage) so far:

  1. Gemma Gibbons (Judo) – 5,274% increase (from 461 to 24,776)
  2. Kristian Thomas (Gymnastics) – 3,258% increase (from 1,229 to 41,266)
  3. Max Whitlock (Gymnastics) – 2,567% increase (from 863 to 23,013)
  4. Michael Jamieson (Swimming) – 1,654% increase (from 2,209 to 43,111)
  5. Peter Wilson (Shooting) – 1,624% increase (from 275 to 4,742)
  6. Katherine Copeland (Rowing) – 1,300% increase (from 250 to 3,501)
  7. Peter Waterfield (Diving) – 978% increase (from 6,039 to 65,117)
  8. Sam Oldham (Gymnastics) – 915% increase (from 1,430 to 14,519)
  9. Zara Dampney (Beach Volleyball) – 796% increase (from 2,356 to 21,103)
  10. Zoe Smith (Weightlifting) – 746% increase (from 5,977 to 50,550)

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As you can see, winning a medal certainly seems to have had quite an impact on the majority of those! But how about the raw numbers – who has seen the most actual volume increase?

Here’s the Top 10 Athletes by Twitter growth (actual) so far:

  1. Tom Daley (Diving) – +761,265 (312,709 to 1,073,974)
  2. Jessica Ennis (Athletics) – +305,807 (200,503 to 506,310)
  3. Rebecca Adlington (Swimming) – +193,805 (64,112 to 257,917)
  4. Bradley Wiggins (Road Cycling) – +183,353 (282,555 to 465,908)
  5. Chris Hoy (Track Cycling) – +108,568 (102,789 to 211,357)
  6. Mo Farah (Athletics) – +107,950 (122,499 to 230,449)
  7. Mark Cavendish (Road Cycling) – +93,603 (393,499 to 487,102)
  8. Victoria Pendleton (Track Cycling) – +60,377 (67,063 to 127,440)
  9. Peter Waterfield (Diving) – +59,078 (6,039 to 65,117)
  10. Louis Smith (Gymnastics) – +45,152 (13,218 to 58,370)

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Once again, winning a medal definitely seems to have a big impact on your fan-base…

Here’s a few other interesting stats for you:

  • At the start of the games, Team GB as a whole (excluding the main TeamGB account) had 5,583,925 followers.
  • By August 5th, this had risen to 8,519,145 followers – that’s an increase of 53% to date
  • Our 70 medal winners (so far!) have grown their accounts by a total of 1,387,064 followers.
  • That’s only marginally less than the total the other 314 have grown by (1,564,222)
  • Our medal winners have increased their following by a total of 63% (overall) so far
  • Even our non medal winners have grown (overall) by 46% so far

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As you’d expect, we’ve got a load more data – including growth by sport – but we’re saving that for the end of the games, so keep your eyes peeled for it next week.

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