Olympics Boost Athlete’s Twitter Following

By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved (used with permission)

(16-Aug) -- The London Olympics not only provided athletes a chance to perform
their best on the world stage and win medals and set records, but also gave them
an ideal opportunity to connect with existing fans and attract new ones. Global
television exposure --including a record audience in the United States according
to the ratings agency Nielsen-- sent fans to social media sites like Twitter to
follow-up on their interest in specific athletes.

The result? Four athletes have emerged as far and away the most popular in athletics
as measured by the number of Twitter followers, a survey by Race Results Weekly found.
This elite group --sprinter Usain Bolt, heptathlete Jessica Ennis, distance runner Mo Farah,
and sprint hurdler Lolo Jones-- have a combined total of 3 million Twitter followers as of Aug. 14,
four times the next ten athletes combined. Each has more
than double the 5th place athlete in the survey, Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake.

Not surprisingly, Jamaica's Bolt --who successfully defended his Olympic titles at 100m and 200m-- is in a class by himself with 1,633,478 followers.
His following has nearly doubled from the days just prior to the London Olympics, according to Twitter tracking site Twitaholic.com. Britain's Ennis,
who was heavily promoted before the Games and then delivered a riveting gold medal performance, is next with 666,173. Farah, another Briton, who won both the
5000m and 10,000m titles, has 395,874 followers, a number which has increased by over 100,000 since August 11th. The American Jones, who finished fourth in the
 100m hurdles, has 310,376 people following her, about three times the 104,000 she had at the end of May prior to the USA Olympic Trials in June,
Twitaholic.com's figures indicated.

All other athletes, the Race Results Weekly survey showed, have fewer than 140,000 followers, and only a dozen have 50,000 or more. Interestingly, some of
the best-performing athletes in the Games only have modest Twitter followings, including gold medalists David Rudisha/800m (14,953), Renaud Lavillenie/pole
vault (7374), and Kirani James/400m (3037).

When compared to other individuals and organizations in the entire Twitter universe, Bolt is the only athlete from the athletics world to make Twitaholic.com's
top 600 (he's 535th). Ennis is 1723rd, Farah is 2872nd, and Jones is 11,223rd. The top athletes in Twitaholic.com's list are footballers Cristiano Ronaldo
(12.4 million followers) and Kaka (12.3 million), and retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal (6.1 million).

For sponsors and event organizers, becoming affiliated with an athlete with a large Twitter following brings a lot of additional value. An athlete who can
directly promote a brand or a competition through a substantial Twitter following is more valuable than an athlete who cannot, given that other factors are
relatively equal. There can be an extra boost from the media, too, because most journalists follow top athletes on Twitter, looking for quotes and other
inside information to use in their stories. Sponsors and event organizers who are not integrating athletes' personal Twitter accounts are missing a prime
opportunity to gain additional exposure.

One caution: since Twitter is primarily an English-language site, athletes who are not from English-speaking nations may show lower numbers for that reason,
only. For instance, Russian pole vaulter Elena Isinbaeva was only 74th in the Race Results Weekly survey with followers (4335), but is clearly a global star.
Also, the largest Spanish-language following in athletics belongs to Dominican 400m hurdler Felix Sánchez with 47,218 followers.

Here are the top athletes with 2000 Twitter followers or more from the Race Results Weekly survey (additions to the list would be welcomed):

Usain Bolt, JAM, 100m/200m, 1,633,478
Jessica Ennis, GBR, Heptathlon, 666,173
Mo Farah, GBR, 5000m/10,000m, 395,874
Lolo Jones, USA, 100mH, 310,376
Yohan Blake, JAM, 100m/200m, 139,055
Allyson Felix, USA, 100m/200m, 112,417
Asafa Powell, JAM, 100m/200m, 80,070
Paula Radcliffe, GBR, Marathon, 78,909
Greg Rutherford, GBR, Long Jump, 78,885
Sanya Richards-Ross, USA, 200m/400m, 69,416
-- 10 --
Tyson Gay, USA, 100m/200m, 57,822
Natasha Hastings, USA, 400m, 51,781
Josh Cox, USA, Marathon, 51,113
Haile Gebrselassie, ETH, Marathon, 48,613
Ryan Hall, USA, Marathon, 48,542
Felix Sánchez, DOM, 400mH, 47,218
Phllips Idowu, GBR, TJ, 42,249
Carmelita Jeter, USA 100m/200m, 32,749
Kellie Wells, USA, 100mH, 30,723
Scott Jurek, USA, Ultramarathon, 27,939
-- 20 --
Nick Symmonds, USA, 800m, 26,154
Ashton Eaton, USA, Deca, 25,845
Meb Keflezighi, USA, Marathon, 25,066
Shalane Flanagan, USA, Marathon, 23,632
Bernard Lagat, USA, 1500m/5000m, 22,595
Justin Gatlin, USA, 100m, 21,858
Warren Weir, JAM, 100m/200m, 20,399
Galen Rupp, USA, 5000m/10,000m, 17,122
David Oliver, USA 110mH, 16,120
Alysia Montano, USA, 800m, 15,557
-- 30 --
Kara Goucher, USA, Marathon, 15,485
Andreas Thorkildsen, NOR, Javelin, 15,215
Wallace Spearmon, 100m/200m, 14,998
David Rudisha, KEN, 800m, 14,953
Luguelin Santos, DOM, 400m, 14,916
Christine Ohuruogu, GBR, 400m, 14,379
Trey Hardee, USA, Deca, 13,600
Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, JAM, 100m/200m, 12,736
Dathan Ritzenhein, USA, 10,000m/Marathon, 12,016
Bryan Clay, USA, Deca, 11,365
-- 40 --
Lauren Fleshman, USA, 5000m, 11,077
Chris Solinsky, USA, 5000m/10,000m, 10,981
LaShawn Merritt, USA, 400m, 9860
Andrew Wheating, USA, 1500m, 9794
Veronica Campbell-Brown, JAM, 100m/200m, 9140
Angelo Taylor, USA, 400mH, 8968
Kerron Clement, USA, 400mH, 8895
Matthew Centrowitz, USA, 1500m, 8849
Evan Jager, USA, 3000m S/C, 8510
Jason Richardson, USA, 110mH, 7814
-- 50 --
Nick Willis, NZL, 1500m 7720
Matt Tegenkamp, USA, 5000m/10,000m, 7558
Desiree Davila, USA, Marathon, 7387
Renaud Lavillenie, FRA, PV, 7374
Dee Dee Trotter, USA, 400mH, 7324
Ciaran O'Lionaird, IRL, 1500m, 7125
Leo Manzano, USA, 1500m, 6957
Lopez Lomong, USA, 5000m, 6997
Shannon Rowbury, USA, 1500m, 6533
Jenny Simpson, USA, 1500m, 6397
-- 60 --
Steve Hooker, AUS, PV, 6261
Jeremy Wariner, USA, 400m, 6252
Dawn Harper, USA, 100mH, 5806
Tia Hellebaut, BEL, HJ, 5365
Erik Kynard, USA, HJ, 5346
Aires Merritt, USA, 110mH, 5195
Brittney Reese, USA, LJ, 5153
Jesse Williams, USA, HJ, 5044
Abdi Abdirahman, USA, 5017
Nicola Sanders, GBR, 400m, 4830
-- 70 --
Bershawn Jackson, USA, 400mH, 4830
Kenenisa Bekele, ETH, 5000m/10,000m, 4722
Tiffany Porter, GBR, 100mH, 4509
Will Claye, USA, LJ/TJ, 4422
Elena Isinbaeva, RUS, PV, 4335
Blanka Vlasic, CRO, HJ, 4168
Christian Taylor, USA, LJ/TJ, 4136
Amy Hastings, USA, 5000m/10,000m/Marathon, 3914
Maggie Vessey, USA, 800m, 3391
Kirani James, GRE, 400m, 3037
-- 80 --
Khadevis Robinson, USA, 800m, 2954
Brianne Theisen, CAN, Heptathlon, 2775
Reese Hoffa, USA, SP, 2751
Tianna Madison, USA, 100m, 2506
Jenn Suhr, USA, PV, 2365
Shara Proctor, GBR, LJ, 2360
David Torrence, USA, 1500m, 2082

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