THE FIRST SOCIAL OLYMPICS
You’ve likely heard it before, and you’re going to hear it dozens of times in the next couple months: We’re about to experience the first truly social Olympics.
UPDATE: We wrote the line above when we first posted “30 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts for London Olympics: Part 1″ a month and a half ago. Since then, our prediction has certainly come true. It seems as though there’s been an article about social media and its role with the London Olympics almost every day. A quick sampling:
New York Times: “Social Media is the Message for Olympics”
Broadcasting & Cable: “Survey: Heavy Use of Social Media Seen for Olympics”
Associated Press: “London Games to be First Social Media Olympics”
We’ve compiled a list of 30 Olympic-related Twitter accounts to get you going. We won’t delve too deep. This is just a starter set mostly made up of American medal hopefuls, some media and a few official accounts. You may already follow most, some or none, but hopefully it’ll help you get ready to be social this summer.
UPDATE: If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of our must-follow list before, you may have followed some of these accounts, and if this is your first time here, well — welcome. In the weeks since we posted the original list, many of the athletes went through Olympic Trials in their respective countries. Some were brilliant, while a couple are staying home after disappointing performances. Meanwhile, media and other official outlets have started arriving in London for what could be the biggest sporting event ever. So with less than two weeks until the Olympic flame is lit, we’ve updated each of the accounts on our list.
Lolo Jones @lolojones: We’ll start with an obvious one. Hurdler Lolo Jones has been one of the most entertaining athletes on Twitter for a while, but a pre-Olympics push through traditional channels has made her more than a passing curiosity. Sure, her sex life — or lack thereof — has drawn most of the attention, but her wit and talent make her more than just a pretty face with an interesting backstory. (There’s a catch here: Jones hasn’t been running well lately and she’s not a lock to make a loaded hurdles team.) Update: Jones barely qualified for a spot in London. She grabbed the third and final spot on the women’s 100m hurdles team during the track & field trials. Jones then made an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Meanwhile, Dawn Harper @DHarp100mH, the woman who won the 100m hurdles in ’08 and at the Olympic Trials, continued to train in anonymity.
Usain Bolt @usainbolt: This Jamaican made our jaw drops in Beijing. He may make our heads explode in London. Usain Bolt has a marketing army around him, so it’s unclear how many tweets are actually coming from him. But Bolt (and his team) provide a solid behind-the-scenes look at the world’s fastest man. Update: Bolt lost twice to Yohan Blake @yohanblake in the Jamaican Trials. It’s clear Bolt will have a much tougher task in London than he had in Beijing.
Bryan Clay @bryanclay: From the world’s fastest man, to the man who earned the title of “world’s best athlete” four years ago. Bryan Clay could make history in London, becoming the first decathlete to win three Olympic medals. His Twitter feed is as strong as he is, plus, he has something in common with George Costanza.
Did you know? Growing up, I either wanted to be a professional athlete or a marine biologist :) #fb
— Bryan Clay (@bryanclay) May 26, 2012
Update: In what was probably the biggest Olympic Trials surprise in the U.S., Clay failed to qualify for London. Ashton Eaton @AshtonJEaton set a decathlon world record during the trials and is a favorite to win Olympic gold.
Michael Phelps @michaelphelps & Ryan Lochte @ryanlochte: While track will dominate headlines during the second half of the Games, the first half belongs to swimming. Michael Phelps won’t win any medals for his average tweeting, but since he’ll likely become the most-decorated Olympian of all-time in London, he’s a must follow. Phelps won’t match his Beijing gold medal haul, mostly because of Ryan Lochte. Like Phelps, Lochte’s not a gold medal tweeter, but he could win a pile of medals, the ladies love him and honestly, how many of us could pull off a talent call like this?
Update: Phelps and Lochte were captivating at the swim trials, where Phelps beat his rival in three out of four races. NBC execs were left giddy with visions of monstrous ratings come London.
Natalie Coughlin @nataliecoughlin & Missy Franklin @franklinmissy: Natalie Coughlin’s Twitter account paints the picture of a girl-next-door who could beat you up if you say something bad about the awesome dinner she just made from her carefully-maintained garden. She left Athens and Beijing as the most-decorated female athlete of those Games and she’s back for more in London. But Coughlin may end up being overshadowed by upstart Missy Franklin. The 17-year-old won five medals in last year’s World Championships and she could be the break-out star of London’s first week. Update: Coughlin had a disappointing trials, qualifying for only the final spot on the women’s 400m relay team. Franklin was dominant and is completely enjoying the buildup to her first Olympics.
Stephanie Rice @ItsStephRice: Jaguar apparently hasn’t minded its inclusion in some scandalous storylines in this season’s “Mad Men,” but the company didn’t hesitate to drop Stephanie Rice during a real-life controversy in 2010. Rice has been more careful on Twitter since then, but the Australian swimming star is still very much engaging and is well worth a follow. Update: Controversy found Rice yet again last month. This time it was because the swimmer was wearing — a swimsuit.
Ricky Berens @rickyberens: Since he’s a client, we’re not impartial, but Ricky Berens could be the most engaging swimmer on Twitter. His social media efforts have helped attract sponsors, something that’s essential for any swimmer not named Phelps or Lochte. Berens has taken self-branding to an Olympian level. He recently designed, coded and launched his own website and he’s one of the first and only swimmers to have a personal logo. On Twitter, he replies to nearly every mention, he’s held numerous contests and he’s vowed to give as much of a behind-the-scenes look at London as the regulations and his schedule allow.
1 Day down for the T-shirt design contest! Get your designs in for your chance to win! All the details and instructions rickyberens.com/?p=1457
— Ricky Berens (@RickyBerens) May 30, 2012
Update: Appropriately, Twitter’s most active U.S. Olympic swimmer found out a dream was coming true, via Twitter.
Nastia Liukin @nastialiukin & Jordyn Wieber @jordyn_wieber: After winning gymnastics all-around gold in Beijing, Nastia Liukin took three years off. She’ll definitely become a focus of NBC if she completes her comeback by making the U.S. team next month. 2011 all-around World Champion Jordyn Wieber will most certainly win a spot, and while her Twitter feed is that of a typical 16-year-old, she’s a good follow for an inside look at one of the Olympic’s most-popular events. Update: Liukin failed to qualify for London after a disastrous performance at the gymnastics trials. Wieber is the favorite to win all-around gold in London, despite finishing her Trials behind upstart Gabrielle Douglas @gabrielledoug.
Novak Djokovic @djokernole: The world’s top-ranked tennis player is also really good at Twitter. He shares tons of pictures through our friends at WhoSay, plus you could also brush up on your Serbian. Update: Djokovic is now the world’s second-ranked player after losing to eventual Wimbledon champ Roger Federer in the tournament’s semifinals. The two will be back on the lawn for what should be an exhilarating Olympic tournament.
Caroline Wozniacki @carowozniacki: Since we’ve already included one “Seinfeld” reference, here’s another: Caroline Wozniacki and golfer Rory McIlroy could be the “schmoopy” sports couple on Twitter. In between tweets of support for her boyfriend, Wozniacki does fill her timeline with quality content, including almost immediate analysis of each of her matches. Update: Wozniacki lost in Wimbledon’s first round. McIlroy missed the cut at the U.S. Open. They still may be calling each other “schmoopy.”
Kevin Love @kevinlove: Speaking of love…Kevin Love’s not guaranteed a spot on the U.S. basketball team, but he’s a decent bet. If he does head to London, the Twitter-talented Love could give us the best behind-the-scenes look at one of the most star-studded teams at the Games. Update: Love did make the team and he’s already providing some good pics.
Misty May-Treanor @mistymaytreanor & Kerri Walsh @kerrileewalsh: NBC had a love affair with this beach volleyball duo in 2004 and 2008, and they’ll likely get a good deal of attention again. They’re each very active on Twitter, giving good insight into their training, and trying to make the world a better place one litterer at a time:
Update: Two beach volleyball players were featured in a piece which began with a quote from Winston Churchill.
Ellis Coleman @daflyinsquirrel & Jordan Burroughs @alliseeisgold: Seriously, WATCH THIS NOW. The guy in the blue, the guy famous for his move called “the flying squirrel,” has just 554 followers. Let’s change that before Ellis Coleman gets to London. Another U.S. wrestler worth a follow is Jordan Burroughs. He doesn’t have a YouTube clip that’ll make you blurt “OH MY,” but he’s incredibly active on Twitter and his @alliseeisgold is one of the best handles out there. Update: Coleman was featured in a great Chicago Tribune piece. Burroughs was featured by Deadspin.
Alex Morgan @alexmorgan13: If you haven’t been following Alex Morgan since the U.S. run in the Women’s World Cup last year, it’s time to correct your mistake. Sure, Morgan isn’t unattractive, but she’s also sure to take us on a Twitter ride while the U.S. women go for gold in London. Update: Morgan’s becoming bilingual.
Ato Boldon @atoboldon: While NBC didn’t ban its talent from Twitter in Vancouver, tweeting certainly wasn’t encouraged. As the network readies for London, it’s changed its tune a bit. NBC’s now urging its broadcasters to tweet from the Games, but Ato Boldon doesn’t need the motivation. The former sprinter and four-time Olympic medal winner has been a fantastic Twitter follow for years, replying to as many questions about his beloved sport as possible, along with providing opinions that have made him a natural in the broadcasting booth. The outspoken Boldon was widely praised for his NBC debut in Beijing, and his popularity is likely to grow as the network’s track analyst in London. Update: Mashable did a Q&A on the ‘World’s Fastest Geek.‘
Philip Hersh @olyphil: With newspapers slicing costs, staff and morale seemingly every week, it’s strange to see Philip Hersh’s Twitter bio: “Olympic sports writer – Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.” While it may not seem like a necessary job for a newspaper these days, Hersh may be the most plugged-in Olympic sports reporter in the U.S. If there’s news you need to know, Hersh will be tweeting about it. Update: Hersh is preparing for London’s Winter Olympics?
Alexander Wolff @alexander_wolff: It may be a bit odd to put someone who’s tweeted just eight times on a must-follow list, but we have faith in Alex Wolff. The Sports Illustrated writer uprooted his wife and two kids and moved from Vermont to London for the summer. While we could certainly think of worse assignments, fish and chips do get old after a while. Wolff joined Twitter in December and obviously hasn’t done much with his account since, but we’re guessing, or at least hoping, that’ll change as the Games get closer. Update: Wolff’s latest dispatch is an entertaining look at the “real” mayor of the Olympic Village.
Ken Fang @fangsbites: Ken Fang is the antithesis of Wolff. Arguably the hardest-working media blogger in the space, Fang’s tweeted more than 130,000 times. We started following him when he was live-tweeting a PBS showing of “Les Miserables” a few years ago and there aren’t many more well-rounded accounts out there. A huge fan of the Olympics, he’ll be more sleep-deprived than usual when the Games begin. Follow Fang and he’ll keep you informed and entertained. Update: Seriously, he’s got everything covered.
Awful Announcing @awfulannouncing: The line “any publicity is good publicity” is a bunch of hooey for most broadcasters. Screw up on a big stage and your mistake’s plastered on blog sites within minutes. During its early days, awfulannouncing.com focused on such snark, “putting announcers on notice.” But the site’s grown up, and while it’s still a place to find the latest broadcasting blooper, it now also collects great moments with a dose of smart commentary. If something notable happens on-air during London, these guys will have it posted and analyzed. Update: They recently updated the look of their site. It looks nice.
Around The Rings @aroundtherings: This one’s for the diehards. The folks at Around the Rings have been covering the Olympics for more than two decades and they don’t just fire off articles from their computers at home. They’ve provided on-the-scene coverage from most big events involving the Games and The Guardian’s called them “the most influential internet presence on the Olympics.” From Bolt to badminton, ATR’s newsletter and website provide comprehensive coverage, and with the clock ticking closer to London, their Twitter account’s pumping out loads of interesting content. Update: ATR’s now on the ground in London.
NBCOlympics @NBCOlympics: If you pay a record $1.18 billion for Olympic rights, you better have a good Twitter account. NBC’s official Olympics account is a solid mix of news, retweeted pictures from American athletes and links to articles on nbcolympics.com. @NBCOlympics should be a fantastic supplement to the network’s staggering 5,535 hours of coverage.
YAY or NAY? What do we think about the official outfits for the podium presenters for the 2012 Games? twitter.com/NBCOlympics/st…
— NBCOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 1, 2012
BBC2012 @BBC2012: While NBC’s essentially still in training camp, the BBC’s well into its preseason schedule. The network’s currently providing unprecedented coverage of the Olympic torch relay, which is a monumental task. This account’s main focus right now is largely on #BBCTorchCam, but it’s also sprinkling in other pictures and content from the host country. Update: The BBC’s also released a mobile app, but its livestreaming won’t work in the U.S.
London2012 @London2012: If you could only follow one of the 30 accounts on this list, we’d suggest @London2012. But a warning: You may get lost for a good hour if you click on the account’s main page to see all its behind-the-scenes goodness. Dozens of photos from event sites, daily video recaps of the torch relay and links to everything you need to know about the Games are blasted out daily. It’s a good bet this will be the most popular account during the Olympics. Our guess is it’ll break 1 million followers by the Opening Ceremony and it’ll reach a few million by the time the flame’s extinguished.
Update: They’re soaked, but ready.
Seb Coe @sebcoe: Like with Alex Wolff above, we’re taking a leap of faith here. Seb Coe is far from a prolific tweeter, but the head of London’s Games is likely to become more active. Coe won Olympic gold for England in track’s 1500 meters in 1980 and 1984, and he’s recieved loads of credit for London’s winning bid seven years ago. As the face of the city’s third Olympics, he’s probably under more pressure than any athlete, but if his Games are a success, Lord Coe’s legend will grow even bigger in Britain. Update: Coe hasn’t become Twitter obsessed, but he has become more active.
Olympics @olympics: We’ll finish up our list with the most obvious account of all. After a less-than-inspiring social media presence in 2010, the International Olympic Committee’s ramped up its efforts for London, including a partnership with Foursquare. The @olympics Twitter account isn’t just pumping out news, it’s also promoting a contest which will send a lucky winner to the Games.Update: @Lucy_Manley used kiwis to win the trip.
After we posted each part of our original list, we received a bundle of other great suggestions, which we included in our Spiracle Olympic List. We also received a phone call last week from @FastLifeShow asking to be included. Chris LaMonica has done a great job with his site, fastlifeshow.com, so he’s now on our list.
From athletes to media to official accounts, there are literally hundreds we could’ve written about. What other suggestions do you have? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll make sure to add them to our list. Let the Games begin!