The Twitter Olympics: 5 Surprises

Number of tweets for first day tops the entire 2008 Beijing Games

Without Twitter, we may never have guessed a cameo by “Mr. Bean” was more popular than Queen Elizabeth herself during the Olympics’ opening ceremonies in London last weekend. But as social media data goes, we now know it’s true.

Starcom MediaVest Group—through its Echo technology—is sharing early results to how the Olympics are playing out on Twitter. Here are five surprises gleaned from the data:

1. London races past Beijing. There were more tweets in the Olympics’ first day than the entire 2008 Beijing Games. While Twitter’s user base has grown exponentially in the last four years, the fact that one day could beat an entire two-week period for usage is definitely eye-catching.

2. 'Twas ole Danny's night on Twitter. Acclaimed British filmmaker Danny Boyle, who served as creative director for the ceremonies, was mentioned 10 times more often during the opening ceremonies than any competing Great Britain athlete over the course of the weekend.

3. God save the Bean. Another coup for Boyle was slyly rolling out comedic actor Rowan Atkinson, who has starred in Great Britain as “Mr. Bean” for years. His cameo—playing one note on a keyboard for a rendition of “Chariots of Fire”—caused Twitter to explode. Atkinson’s appearance nudged out the Queen for most mentions during opening night.

4. Britain pride. Everyone’s a critic when it comes to big media events like the Oscars, Super Bowl, Olympics, etc. So it was interesting to see that Twitter users employed the word “proud” five times as often as “bored.” In other words, the British showed well in London and on Twitter.

5. Cool Tweetings. Despite ranking 141st in population among world nations, Jamaica is being extremely well represented on Twitter. The Caribbean country ranked only behind USA (190,000 tweets) and Great Britain (180,000) in terms of the number of tweets in support of their athletes over the weekend.