Tweeting for the Gold – #rio2016

As the 31st Olympic Games unfolded in Rio de Janeiro, millions of spectators took part in the action by blogging, tweeting, and posting their thoughts about the events. The hashtag “#rio2016” was a trending topic worldwide and generated content from several online platforms. Using Sysomos MAP 2.0, we focused on and analyzed the content generated on Twitter with #rio2016.

We began our analysis by looking at the entire month of August. On Twitter we found a total of 31,162,492 tweets using #rio2016. That gave us a mean average of approximately 1,005,242 tweets per day, and 41,855 tweets per hour.

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Twitter traffic increased around certain highlights from the games. #rio2016 saw its highest use on August 5th, the day of the opening ceremony.

Although use of the hashtag never again surpassed 2 million tweets in one day, usage came close on August 12, likely due to swimmer Katie Ledecky’s world record breaking performance in the 800 meter freestyle and Michael Phelps competing in his final individual race on that day.

Another spike was seen on August 14th, when American swimmer Ryan Lochte was reportedly robbed at gunpoint and Simone Biles took home her third gold medal.

On August 19th, Usain Bolt’s third gold medal victory likely contributed to another spike in #rio2016’s usage.

It was also on this day that Bolt published the most retweeted tweet of the Olympics, garnering an impressive 72,479 retweets by the end of the month.

The final day of the games and the closing ceremonies also led to a spike in hashtag usage on August 21st. Although there is a large drop off in usage after the games ended, #rio2016 still garnered 29,078 on August 31st.

As a global event, it wasn’t surprising to see #rio2016 being used around the world, the most usage being seen in The United States, the rest of the Americas, Western Europe and India. The Hashtag was used to a lesser extent across Africa, Asia and Australia.

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Perhaps more telling than the above map is the wordcloud generated around #rio2016 pictured below.

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Here we can get a taste of the different Twitter users sharing their thoughts on the games. In addition to English, Spanish and Japanese words account for a majority of the language surrounding the hashtag. The presence of “https” would lead one to believe that many of the tweets using #rio2016 featured links to articles or rich media concerning the games.

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While still prevalent, multiple languages are seen less in the buzzgraph generated around the hashtag. A majority of the language deals with the Olympics themselves (e.g. “olímpico”) individual events and sports (e.g. “100m”) performance in those events (“gold,” “medalla,”) and some specific nations (“brasil,” “esp,” “teamusa”).

The 2016 Olympics were one of the most talked about topics on social media this August. Spikes in social conversation were attributable to events that happened during the Olympics such as the Opening Ceremony and the Ryan Lochte scandal, but the Games as a whole generated constant  buzz on Twitter during their entirety. This event clearly holds a global audience, with tweets coming in from around the world. Additionally, the event was a great opportunity for content producers to get clicks, as people were likely to share links with their audiences on Twitter posts. We should expect that trend to continue on to Tokyo and then some, as the social media community continues to grow and become a more effective way to spread messages across the world.

Alexandra Mayer, Zach Schweikert, Antoinette Zeina, Max Gerstman

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