Twitter and the Olympics

The Olympics are the perfect event for Twitter.  People from all over the world can commentate and show support; Olympians can share stories and provide their own narrative of the games. 

Looking at Twitter through an Olympic lens puts its rapid growth into perspective. 

2006 – Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy

The games where Shaun White made his Olympic debut, Lindsey Jacobellis fell in snowboard cross, and Apolo Anton Ohno dominated the short track.  There were 0 people on Twitter at the time.  Twitter was created one month later.   

2008 – Summer Olympics in Beijing, China

In Beijing, Michael Phelps won his 8th gold medal, Usain Bolt broke two world records, and the “Redeem Team” prevailed.  In two years, Twitter had grown to just over a million users.  Although reaching a million users in 2 years is impressive, compared to the 4 billion people tuning in to the closing ceremonies – Twitter didn’t make much of an impact. 

2010 – Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada

Fast-forward two years – Apolo Ohno and Shaun White continued their domination, Lindsey Vonn won the women’s downhill, and Bode Miller picked up his first gold medal.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) appointed Alex Hunt its first “head of social media,” and Twitter reached 26 million users. 

2012 – Summer Olympics in London, England

Weeks before London’s Opening Ceremonies, Twitter reached 517 million users.  There were more tweets in the first day of the London Olympics than there were in the entire 2008 Beijing Games.  Everyone was buzzing about Usain Bolt and the Jamaican track team, Gabby Douglas, Andy Murray, Oscar Pistorius, and the American women’s soccer team.  In total, there were over 28 million Olympic tweets. 

2014- Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Today, there are over 646 million Twitter users and social media has been integrated into almost every aspect of the Olympics.  You can follow almost any team, sport, journalist, Olympian, and event on Twitter.  It is arguably the best way to get news about the games. 


To think that there were 0 Twitter users 8 years ago – it is hard to imagine what conversation platforms will be used in 8 years. Or even – what will Twitter look like for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio?




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