Rio 2016 – Social Media Winners And Losers

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 26 Aug 2016 by Simon Badman
Social Media

So the Olympic flag has been passed on to Tokyo and that’s Rio 2016 done and dusted. Well in truth it’s only half-time with the equally exciting and inspiring Paralympics starting on September 7th.

Social media has played an ever increasing role in each Olympics (and Paralympics) and with what has to be the most social Olympics to date, we look back at some of the social media winners and losers at Rio 2016.

Gold Medal


In Rio 2016 the gold medal has to go to Snapchat. Snapchat was the Max Whitlock of the Olympics, In Brazil Max won two golds, GB’s first golds in gymnastics ever and for me, Snapchat’s rise in popularity since 2012 is similar to Max’s rise to Olympic glory.

In 2012, Snapchat was experiencing 30K active users per day. Four years later, that had grown significantly with Rio 2016 coverage on the platform having an audience of 50 million in the first week of the games alone.

For its US audience, Snapchat struck deals with NBC to show highlights from the games and with Buzzfeed for behind the scenes coverage. Interestingly enough NBC’s audiences were down on previous Olympics which could be as a result of its successful social content taking the audience away from broadcast.

With Snapchat’s ever increasing audience and both athletes, such as Simeone Biles and Usain Bolt, and fans alike getting social on the platform and there can only be one winner.


In every sport, there are good losers and bad losers. More than ever, social conversations and commentary from arm-chair fans and haters alike played a huge role at Rio 2016.

From green pools to fake robberies there was always an insight, hypothesis or viewpoint being shared. Even at the time of writing #LochteGate is still riding high on twitter and currently shows no sign of dissipating.

Thanks to social media, there was also certainly no hiding place for poor performance outside the arena of competition as well. On Twitter and Sina Weibo, we saw posts from members of the Chinese team disgruntled by their accommodation, lack of food choice and falling appliances such as shower curtains.


There were also losers on social media who turned into winners, those through a display of sympathy or humanity touched our hearts and our timelines. When Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino finished last in the 5000m, the real story was how they helped and encouraged each other to carry on running following their collision in the race. The story trended on social media eclipsing the conversation about the gold medal winner Cheruiyot Vivian Jepkemoi.

nikki-hamblinAt SocialB we’re looking forward to the Paralympics and Tokyo 2020 and seeing what and who will dominate social media.

We’d love to hear what social media inspired from Rio 2016. Please comment or tweet us at @socialbuk

Simon Badman is a Partner of SocialB and worked with thirteen Paralympic teams and one Olympic team prior to London 2012.


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