Broadcasters who downplayed the Olympic equestrian competition of London 2012 because they considered it of limited interest may well have been mistaken, an analysis of social media reveals.
Global software company ExactTarget conducted an analysis of social media followers in the Olympic discplines and discovered that the equestrian sports led the field.
ExactTarget, which provides marketing support to some of the world’s top brands, found that the number of equestrian followers outstripped the traditional “big” Olympic sports of athletics and swimming.
The firm produced a graphic entitled “Socialympics and the Twitter Games” in which it laid out its findings.
ExactTarget blogger Kyle Lacey said it was important to understand how individuals were using social media to enhance their Olympics experience, whether hanging out in London or sitting at home.
The company looked at the official London Olympic Twitter handle – that’s the user name selected – for each sport and the number of followers. The numbers were recorded for a week from mid-June.
Equestrian came out on top with 1015, followed by swimming with 1021 and volleyball with 845. Road cycling collected 729 while athletics garnered 728.
The firm also looked at the most popular athletes at the Games, finding US basketballers were standouts. LeBron James had 4.7 million Twitter followers and 10.6 million “likes” on Facebook, while Kobe Bryant had 108,000 Twitter followers and 13 million Facebook likes.
Tennis player Roger Federer had 10.7 million Facebook likes, while Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt had 516,000 Twitter followers and 6.8 million likes on Facebook.
A quick look after today’s Olympic closing ceremony reveals that the official London 2012 equestrian Twitter account now has 5669 followers. Athletics surged to 5939 followers, while swimming made an even bigger splash with 7806 followers, perhaps reflecting the higher levels of media exposure given to the latter two sports. The modern pentathlon, which includes a showjumping component, had drawn 1499 followers my the end of the Games.
Volleyball, an earlier standout in the Twitter stakes when ExactTarget carried out its analysis, ended the games with 4640 Twitter followers.