TWITTER OLYMPICS: A survey of what 1,393 tweets say about the London Olympics build-up

A world united in sport? Or an Olympic army of occupation that is taking over London causing tailbacks and mayhem? What’s the truth of it?

Taking a look at a snapshot of tweets some surprising facts emerged.
Using a tweetreach report on the #olympics hashtag that covers a three hour period just after rush-hour on Monday July 24 four days before the games started more than 1,300 tweets were analysed. They were not limited to a geographical area.
Yes, it was a bit tedious going through them all and yes, some of the results are a bit surprising. It’s also cross-posted on Comms2point0. 
This could never be a definitive study of opinion. For that more detailed evaluation and market research would need to be done. But what it does show is a snapshot of what Twitter was thinking in the run-up to the Olympic games over a three hour period.
Each tweet was assessed and graded as being positive, negative or neutral – the standard press office monitoring yardstick. I also kept a check on how many complained about LOCOG or the policing of the brand guidelines.

Headline findings

  • 37.8 per cent of tweets sent were positive about the Olympics.
  • 36.0 per cent of tweets sent were neutral about the Olympics.
  • 26.2 per cent of tweets sent were negative about the Olympics
  • 6.5 per cent of tweets sent were critical of the commercialisation or emforcement by LOCOG of brand guidelines. They’re counted in the overall negative list.


  • More than 4 million accounts were reached by the tweets.
  • More than 6 million impressions were made by the snapshot – that’s all the individual tweets added up.
On the face of it, just after rush hour on the Monday morning before the event starts may well be a low point in the run-up to the games. It’s Monday. The event hadn’t started yet and none of the razzle of the opening ceremony had begun to kick in. Athletes were still getting to grips with the traffic.

The top three tweets

All three of the top tweets from the survey were classed as negative with the third using the hashtag of the far right English Defence League – the EDL.

But some things are were striking…

Critical tweets. To have a quarter of tweets in the #olympics hashtag with four days to go would show a surprising degree of dissatisfaction. But with the event yet to start there is still time to change things.

Dissatisfaction with LOCOG. To have 6.5 per cent critical of the commercialisation of the games and how LOCOG are enforcing the rules is a significant number for a non-sporting issue. But while the issue is big in some quarters it’s simply not amogtst many.

LOCOG not engaging. LOCOG are not engaging with Twitter criticism and the Olympics Twitter account with more than a million followers is just tweeting a handful of times. Surprising when there is so much to communicate.

Brands are not engaging with the #Olympics hashtag. The main sponsors – McDonalds and others – were absent from the snapshot of tweets.

Excitement. There is genuine excitement amongst many people that the games are almost here, that they are in London.

Is hashtag crashing the new guerilla marketing? A handful of smaller companies are using the #Olympics hashtag to target the event. Accomodation companies, bookmakers and others are tweeting using the hashtag.

Athletes. For the first time at a big event competitors themselves are having a large say.

A cross-section of tweets in the run-up to the event tells a limited story. But it does show some pointers. With the Olympic movement not connecting with social media the conversations and chatter are clearly being shaped and dominated by those outside the corporate VIP area.

There is also much excitement ahead of the games – the majority of tweets are positive.

It will be fascinating to see how it pans out.

A snapshot of tweets…

Postitive, negative, LOCOG bashing and hashtag squating…

SESSION LESSON: A DIY guide to running your own small Barcamp

There’s a great quote about learning not being compulsory, but neither is survival.

For the public sector learning and survival are vital in 2011.

No doubt, there’s a place for paid training.

But 2011 will be the year unconference as they expand in size and number.

What’s a barcamp? It’s bright like minded people coming together, booking a venue and running some sessions to exchange ideas.

UK Govcamp in London drew more than 170. It created an explosion of inspiring thinking on the day and after.

For this organisers Dave Briggs and Steph Gray need to be revered as heroes.
But that’s not enough for them. Oh, no. They’ve gone and created More Open. A fund to help start-up barcamps in other parts of the country. What a pair of dazzling gents.

Shropcamp is one of the first to benefit. Others will follow.

Last October I joined Si Whitehouse, Stuart Harrison, Andy Mabbett and Mike Rawlins to put on the comfortably laid back and low level Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands.

Around 70 people came on a Wednesday afternoon to Walsall College with tweets and reaching a potential audience through the #hyperwm hashtag we were surprised to learn of 56,000.

Now, I don’t for one minute suggest we’re now fully fledged event planners after one gig. Nor is what we did remotely in the same ballpark as UK Govcamp.

But that’s the point. It wasn’t trying to be. We just fancied doing something in our part of the world that we’d want to go to.

So, in the spirit of doing and sharing here are some things we learned. It feels like the right time to post this.


1) Have an idea. Kick it around with some conspirators. If it stands up to the scrutiny of a couple of people you’re on a winner. Rope them in too. It’s good to share.

2) Think of a list of people you’d like to be there. Get their support for the idea. Now you’re on your way.

3) Check Dave Briggs’ 10 things to do for a barcamp. It’s indispensible.


4) Think of a name for your event. Get yourself a Twitter account. Spread the word. Don’t wait until you have a venue or location. A name will do at first.

5) Get yourself a presence on the UK govcamps site that requires sign-up. There’s already a community of people there.

6) Get yourself a basic WordPress site to host a Google map with venue, parking and other locations.

7) Use your Twitter to flag up potential sessions and sponsors. Build momentum.

8.  Use your offline contacts to raise interest. Email. Talk. Cajole. Enthuse.


9) Get a venue within striking distance of a train station if you possibly can.

10) Use any contacts you may have to get it at cheap rate or free. Is there a public sector venue that fits the bill?

11) Rolling tea and coffee is a must. Catering is a cherry on top bonus, frankly. It’s 2011.

12) If it’s a public sector thing, think of a venue near a council building.

13) Having it away from the council itself is liberating. It helps people loosen up and makes it a slightly non-work thing.


14) Briggs’ guide wisely suggests banging the drum with web companies. There may be some public sector cash knocking around too.


15) There’s a debate on what works best. A Saturday? You may get people who can’t come along midweek. Midweek? You’ll make it part of the day job for less committed nine to fivers. There’s a role for both. Friday isn’t always great, apparently.

16) How about the length of it? All day or half day? How about a post event drink too? You may find people want to chat a bit afterwards.


17) Use Eventbrite for tickets. Release them in batches to build up a sense of momentum. Give a build-up via Twitter to each release.

18) DM people to invite them to sign up. Don’t think that just because its posted on Twitter at 9am the world is all watching at 9am.


19) Venues often have wifi on lockdown banning access to social media sites. Test what they may offer beforehand.

20) Bring lots of extension cables.

21) Bring sticky labels people can write names on.

22) Have one of your organising team always floating around to sort any problems.

23) Do something different. We invited people to bake a cake.

24) Have a couple of volunteers signing people in. Sounds obvious.

25) You’ll need someone like Andy Mabbett to compare. He’s loud. He has a big beard. He’s good at explaining.


26) You’ll need to take the next day off. To recover, but also to capture the resources that have come out of it.

27) You may want to pay for a Tweetreach report to get a seven day snapshot of tweets with your hashtag. It’s handy to see the size of things. It’s also handy to pass on when you’re thanking sponsors.

28) You may want to capture some of the things that came out of the event too. Like Pelsall Common People blog that started in the wake of ours.

29) Have fun. Have fun. Have fun. It’s fun. A bit of work but mainly fun.

Creative Commons credits:

Agile session

Analogue boy