Is the Olympics effect on Social Media usage a spike or the start of a trend?

It’s difficult not to know the Olympics is being hosted by London this year. It’s on the TV, it’s on the radio, it’s in the news, and it’s the talk of offices and coffee shops all over the country… and most interestingly it is also the first Olympics year in which Social Media has been playing a huge part in those conversations.

There were fears before the Olympics that the infrastructure may not be able to cope with the influx of twitter use, photo texts, mobile TV, & Facebook status updates etc which were expected during the opening ceremony and the events in general. Most of these concerns seem unfounded but the fact that Twitter has repeatedly hit the news since the start of the Olympics, including for impacting the ability of broadcasters to get accurate information on the cycling road race and for the abusive messages sent to Tom Daley, does demonstrate that the use of this particular type of Social Media is now an integral part of the Olympics 2012.

I have friends who are lucky enough to have obtained tickets for Olympic events who are posting photos and results to Facebook, I am following numerous Twitter feeds of athletes, reporters and broadcasting organisations & am enjoying participating in sharing results and supporting and discussing the various events. For someone such as myself who has not managed to get tickets, and who really wanted them, it has helped to make me feel involved and helped to bring to the event to life. Interestingly I am also seeing increasing involvement from less sporty friends and colleagues who would not normally be interested in the Olympics but who are finding themselves drawn in to the excitement and able to follow the sports better due to the increased information available at our fingertips.

I am sure there will be numerous stats available around usage of various media during the Olympics, and I very much hope that the many companies using social media as a marketing tool linked to the Olympics are measuring it’s success. It will be really interesting to look into these and see how the usage is split across the various media, and whether conversations and engagement were up as well as broadcasting of messages. However I think even at this early stage we can say it’s been a big impact.

For me though, the big question we can’t answer yet is: Is any increase in the use of Social Media resulting from the Olympics likely to be the start of a more general increase in usage – or is this just a large spike and the normal trends will resume in a few weeks time. What do you think?

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