The social media medallists
- 10 August 2012
- From the section Technology
The bell has just rung, and we're on the final lap. Yes, the social media Olympics are drawing to a close and it is shaping up to be a triumph.
We were told at the start that this would be the first Olympics where athletes, spectators and the global audience connected via the social networks - and, amazingly, that prediction was spot on.
The television audiences have of course been huge - but even if you had never been near a TV during the last two weeks, you could have experienced all the joy, despair and sheer exuberant excitement of the games through Twitter, Facebook and the various photo sharing sites.
They have been used by athletes to communicate directly with their fans in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago, and by the public to give a completely different perspective on the games than that provided by the mainstream media.
And the social networks have been the place to be if you wanted to be first with the news, from the row over empty seats at venues, to the British pole vaulter who announced her engagement on Twitter.
So the time has come for me to hand out some medals in the Social Media Olympic Games. I have three categories in which I'm awarding medals.
I've crowdsourced the awards, asking for nominations on Twitter, but in the end I've used my own skill and judgement. Feel free to add your own nominations.
My Twitter timeline is almost entirely dominated by the Olympics and this category is very competitive. Honourable mentions go to BBC colleagues @clarebalding1 and @pearcesport and @corrie_corfield - the first two for their brilliance at communicating their expertise, the Radio 4 newsreader for her sheer delight about every aspect of the games. But in the end the medals go to these three Twitter titans:
When I first saw Samuel L Jackson's tweets, I laughed and then decided it could not be him. But it is! The Hollywood actor has lived every minute of the games - like most of us - via television and has communicated his enjoyment in all the exuberant profane style we might expect from the star of Pulp Fiction. We love him too because of his appreciation of our British athletes. Most of his tweets are unprintable on a family website, but this one - in which he praises the record breaking cycling team - is a good example of his style.
Plenty of athletes have gained tens of thousands of followers as a result of their exploits over recent weeks - but the Tour de France winner and time trial gold medallist is a personal favourite. Bradley Wiggins does not tweet much - but when he does it seems to be from the heart, as with this one the night after his victory. Sadly, a purported Twitter exchange between Wiggins and Piers Morgan turned out to be nothing to do with the cyclist. But it says something about the Modfather's ultra-cool persona that so many people believed it was him.
Now, after his tweet at the opening ceremony which attracted record numbers of re-tweets, the web's founding father should have been a shoo-in for gold. But since then he has been resting on his laurels, with not a single new tweet, and that means he's been lapped by Jackson and Wiggins. But the man who made all of this activity possible still deserves a bronze - even if NBC has never heard of him.
Best social media picture
There have been countless memorable pictures captured by professional photographers at these games. But some of the best most iconic images have been captured on smartphones by amateurs and then shared with the world over social networks.
Michael Acton Smith was on his way to work in East London when he spotted these Rwandan athletes waiting for a bus outside his office. Michael - the man behind the Moshi Monsters online childrens' game - took a picture and gave it the caption "This is why I love the Olympics. Team Rwanda at my bus stop" and if anything sums up the spirit of 2012, this picture does it for me.
In a similar vein, this picture of a Venezuelan fencing gold medallist on the tube tells the story of a games where world class athletes were not too proud to mix with the rest of us. A number of people seem to have spotted him - this picture was tweeted by the comedian Omid Djalili, another by Chris Scanlan who said: "We had a fiesta in the carriage and had pictures taken with the gold medallist, it was an amazing atmosphere."
Just before the games got underway, BBC Sport's Frank Keogh snapped this very amusing picture of police officers near the Olympic Park doing a tribute to Usain Bolt. And once the Jamaican superstar had won the 100 metres, he reposted it on his @honestfrank Twitter account, since when it has been re-tweeted more than 120,000 times.
Even if the Olympics celebrates individual endeavour, there is always a team behind the winners. And that holds true in the Social Media Olympics too - so let's pick some medal winning teams.
Gold: Team GB
As we've celebrated the gold rush for British athletes, Team GB's social media efforts have kept it ahead of the pack. With a hugely popular Facebook page, and around 600,000 Twitter followers this team has been a "must follow" for British fans. It's not just about the latest results, Team GB has engaged with its audience.
One of the few lowpoints of the games has been the huge frustrations of dealing with the Olympics tickets website, which seemed design to inspire hope only to dash it after a long wait. The very smart folks who set up this Twitter account to help navigate the tortuous path to spare tickets have won huge gratitude from their customers.
But a much more popular and useful aspect of the London 2012 website has been the various live cameras at the venues. Linked to Twitter accounts, they have at least given fans who have not been able to get near the venues a taste of what it's like to be there - or even to take part.