Along with much of the country – if not the world – we have been watching the London 2012 Olympics with one eye on the TV and the other on Twitter, watching the reactions in what has been called the first "Social Media Olympics."
But as well as watching what's going on in our own timelines, in the SMG London Research team we've also been using our own ECHOscreen analysis tool to track the wider mentions and conversations about the Games.
The Opening ceremony
From the start, it was hard to see what could top the spectacular opening ceremony, which saw an explosion of tweets as the ceremony began (and the rare experience of my own timeline revolving almost exclusively around a single topic.)
An average of 23 million viewers tuned into the ceremony, making it the highest sport TV audience since England’s defeat to Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, with viewing figures peaking at almost 27 million when Rowan Atkinson made a cameo performance playing Chariots of Fire with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Echoing these TV audience patterns, Mr Bean got the highest number of mentions during the ceremony. The quirky NHS segment beat David Beckham’s powerboat performance in Twitter reaction. (Twitter was also fascinated by the announcements made first in French then English.)
Although the overall levels of Twitter mentions slowly declined over the course of the ceremony – perhaps as viewers' attention turned away from Twitter and towards Danny Boyle's unique celebration of Great Britain's history of culture and notable achievements – there was a notable shift in the tone of tweets as the ceremony unfolded. Overall, we saw an overwhelmingly positive reaction, with five times more mentions of being #proud than #bored – and 10 times more mentions of Danny Boyle during the opening ceremony than any GB competitor during their events over the opening weekend.
Bolt Beats Twitter
My favourite visualisation so far is the look at how Twitter responded to the mens 100m final. As well as being the "fastest man on earth" race, its also notable as being one of the shortest – with the exception of one injured athlete, every finallist completed the race in under 10 seconds.
Looking at the volumes of related Tweets (based on mentions of a set of related keywords), you can clearly see how the Twitter data provides second-by-second insight into how the viewers' are engaging with the event; the dip as the race starts, and Twitterers' attention turns to the TV screen, and then back to the 'social screen' as the race finishes. But it takes 33 seconds before Twitterers' reactions to the race to reach their peak of 2,360 tweets per second; it seems that the act of writing and posting 140 characters typically takes over 3 times as long as the race itself.
(Or, to put it another way, Usain Bolt runs 10 metres in less time than the average Twitterer takes to write a single character.)
Bolt was the clear number one on Twitter as well as in the final itself, generating over 1.5 million tweets on Sunday evening versus just 320,000 for Silver medalist Yohan Blake.
With the rate of tweets peaking at over 100,000 per minute, this event marked the highest level of activity we have seen over the course of the games so far – four times as high as the highest peak we saw during the opening ceremony.
Team GB athletes
Lizzie Armistead was the most tweeted about GB competitor at the end of the first weekend, following her victory in the women’s road race that opened Team GB’s medal tally in dramatic fashion. Armistead received over five times the number of tweets than second place Cavendish who suffered disappointment in the men’s road race a day earlier.
On Day 5, the Men’s Time Trial lit up Twitter in celebration of Bradley Wiggins’ win. With a total of 240,000 tweets, peaking at 12,000 per minute as Wiggins won – more than we saw at the start of the Euro 2012 penalty shootout when Italy knocked out England. (It was also perhaps the clearest illustration so far that Twitter loves a winner; compare those figures to the Women’s Time Trial earlier that day – where Team GB failed to medal – which generated just 8,300 tweets in total.)
Over the course of the event, 117,000 tweets name checked Brad Wiggins personally– three times more than mentioned Danny Boyle during the opening ceremony.
TeamGB’s extraordinary weekend was cheered all the way – on super Saturday alone the home team generated over 1.3m twitter name checks. Jessica Ennis was the winner of all GB athletes on super Saturday with 293,000 tweets, but it was Andy Murray who topped the weekend's table with 829,000 compared to Ennis in second place with 346,000.
But on Day 11, as Sir Chris Hoy became the most successful British Olympian, he also eclipsed fellow British athletes with 208,000 tweet name checks in a single day. Mentions of Sir Chris peaked at 19,000 per minute – the highest yet for a cyclist in these games.
The Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan winning Gold and Bronze respectively. followed Sir Chris Hoy with 154,000 tweets as they took Gold and Bronze in the Men’s Triathlon. Anna Meares wins the women’s sprint but Victoria Pendleton beats her arch rival with 45,900 tweet mentions versus Meares 10,400.
You can see some more of our Games-related infographics over at The Wall, where we have looked at the opening ceremony, the celebration of Wiggins' gold medal, the reaction to the men's 100m final, and Chris Hoy's 200,000+ mentions on Day 11. Or check back next week, as we will be sharing a broader overview of what we have seen over the course of the Games.