People all around the world are going crazy on Facebook for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Thanks to the wide availability of data, we can see just how crazy. Olympics fans can play games, use applications to gain more information about their favorite athletes, like an Olympian’s Facebook page, or simply mention them in a status update. So what have been the most popular apps and who have been the most popular athletes so far?


Athletes’ Facebook pages

The most popular athlete on Facebook isn’t even competing in London. English footballer David Beckham has more than 20 million Facebook fans, but he was not chosen by Great Britain to play on his home pitch. Oddly enough, Beckham has never competed in the Olympics. Statistics from AlchemySocial, an Experian company, show that American basketball star Kobe Bryant is the most popular athlete on Facebook who is actually playing





Dan Gilbert, Head of Insights at AlchemySocial, noted that more Facebook users are flocking to team pages, such as those of Great Britain, Japan, and Australia. Whereas most athletes post only occasionally, as they’re too busy training and competing, the team pages have become hubs of discussion. Individual athletes, such as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, have locked down fans’ ability to post directly to their pages, leaving them to comment whenever Bolt posts. Team pages usually allow users to post freely, facilitating more conversation among fans of that country. Gilbert noted in a press release to AllFacebook that the host Great Britain has been the fastest grower on Facebook so far:

Teams aside, many athletes do manage to leverage Facebook to create and share in the excitement of their fans, and although many of the most prominent ones are outside of the track or pool – Bolt and Phelps are worldwide sensations with many millions of Facebook fans, and it will be interesting to see whether the games generate 1 million more fans with new audiences or whether they have reached saturation. In Great Britain, until the eve of the games, Tom Daley and Jessica Ennis – two much more local stars — had similarly sized fan bases of about 100,000 fans. Daley’s page has since soared to close to 500,000 fans, growing by almost three times in the past week, and the level of engagement is greater than many of the biggest athletes on Facebook.

Some additional facts and figures from London-based AlchemySocial:

  • The week ending July 28, Facebook received the second-most downstream visits from a portfolio of search terms for all the U.S. Olympic athletes (Wikipedia was first).
  • Facebook also received the second-most downstream visits from a custom category, U.S. Olympic sponsors (Google was first).
  • American hurdler Lolo Jones was the most searched for athlete for the same time period in the U.S.


Mentions on Facebook

Now that we’ve discovered who the most liked athletes and teams are, who are users talking about the most on Facebook — through status updates and comments? New research from Compass Labs shows the U.S. athletes who have been most talked about on Facebook from the Opening Ceremonies until Aug. 1. Of course, the big names such as Phelps, Venus and Serena Williams, Hope Solo, and Ryan Lochte are on there, but can you name the most popular American water polo player or cyclist?