Lolo Jones Photo: Screenshot of Twitter.com/LoloJones
This is the social media Olympics. At least, such are the rumblings all over Facebook and Twitter. Fans and followers have exploded since the 2008 Games. Twitter has jumped from less than 1 million accounts to more than 300 million. The number on accounts on Facebook has vaulted from 90 million to more than 900 million. When you add in Instagram, Tumblr, etc., well, you get the idea. The athletes have taken notice, and now there are a lot of Olympians on a lot of digital platforms throwing out a lot of little bits of information in order to get more exposure during the biggest athletic moment of their careers.
The International Olympic Committee also noticed. They don't want things to get out of hand, especially with the articles on sex and partying and what not in the Olympic Village. So they've established some guidelines: athletes must post in a first-person, diary-type format, videos are forbidden, and any pictures of other athletes can only be posted if permission has been received. A few U.S. Olympians have already spoken out about having to follow such rules, which is part of the reason they've made our list of the people to follow. “Why would you want to handicap a form of media that only increases exposure for your event?” Olympian Nick Symmonds told Mashable. “If you’re trying to make these the most watched Games in the history of the world, why would you take the people responsible for that history and say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that, you can’t share?’ Limiting it seems so stupid.”
“I think the main reason it’s frustrating for us as Olympic athletes is that this is our biggest stage,” swimmer Ricky Berens told Mashable. “Twitter and social media are how we can get our word out, and fans kind of want to see what things look like from behind the scenes. TV portrays things the way it wants to, and we can give a lot more that that.”
How the rules will be enforced is unclear. Many athletes won't complain about the rules or test them, but may still put up tweets you'll want to share: a take on God, daily inspiration, an inside look at the lives of the competitors, a self-portrait after an important event. Here's my take on which U.S. Olympians you should follow on Twitter, depending on what you're trying to find.
Best For: Completely Random Thoughts
Here are his two most recent tweets.
"Toaster Strudel is weak sauce. I just had real German apple strudel and it was the beez neez." July 16
"Just had the most awesome interview with Bill Cosby. He should have been a Decathlete. He had some crazy good marks back in the day!" July 16
Best For: Getting an Easy Retweet, If You Swim
"@FranklinMissy Can I get an RT my brother has a meet today! He would be so happy!" July 17
"@FranklinMissy Aleah, 14, swims in league Championships this week. Please RT to wish her good luck! Thanks so much!" July 17
Best For: Sheer Number of Tweets and Best Use of Nicknames in Follower Call Outs
On July 13 he tweeted 29 times. One of those tweets is below.
"Hey Lochte NATION!! I need your help! I need all my Lochtenators to vote for me for the Most Awesome Body in Sports! http://espn.go.com/espnw/commenta …” July 13
Best For: Being On Point Most of the Time, With Strange Retweets Just Often Enough to Throw You
"An #Aquarius woman will always try to know your deepest thoughts and secrets, but her own will be beyond your reach" July 12
Best For: Getting the Inside Scoop
".@MattGrevers cheats at darts. His arms are too long." July 13
"Put a video of our training set up here in Vichy. Everyone on the team is amazed by the pool and experience we are get… http://say.ly/GjV3LwF" July 15
"Cards on top of the hotel with @JimmyFeigen and @Shanteau. http://say.ly/hjz3LBH" July 16
Best For: Unfiltered Quick Hits on Money and Sponsorship
"Anyone who says event sponsors will pull there $ if athletes rep their companies obviously never watched an X-Games. pic.twitter.com/JozCfYYs" July 16
Best For: Surprise Snapshots and Self Portraits
"GOT HIMM!!!!!! @KingJames http://lockerz.com/s/225344238" July 15
"On set of this Foot Locker commercial. #BeardLife http://instagr.am/p/M7YptHtlc8/" July 10
100 Meter Hurdles
Best For: Sillyness
"12 days out from Olympics... Don't care if u send me pic with a Panda holding a baby panda that is holding a panda teddy bear. I will snap!" July 16
"Most say, aww how cute But I say #noemotions #pokerface Fight it... Fight it... *one tear drops* RT @jsttrbl22: but... pic.twitter.com/oipTTkuH" Later that day on July 16