Analysis: The week in Tweets - microblogging shows Olympic strength

By Peter Gothard
03 Aug 2012 View Comments
opening-ceremony

It's been evident for several years now that Twitter is a monetising, highly effective business commodity. Be it sponsored tweets, increased SEO click rates from well-distributed retweets and appearance in the right lists, having a social network presence is always, statistics show, a key priority in any publicity strategy.

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But with the Olympics drawing together so many Twitter users at once, many of them involved in the bitter coverage wars between media organisations and solitary publicity hounds, this week has proved fertile ground for observing Twitter in action, dramas and reactions unfolding in such a way as to highlight the influence of this fast-moving and hugely socially penetrating product.

From protesting Rule 40 - which bans Olympic athletes from promoting non-Olympic sponsors, to two athletes, Swiss footballer Michel Morganella and Greek athlete Paraskevi Papahristu, being disqualified from the games due to racist tweets, the Olympics has had its fair share of key involvement with social networking.

But the first major occurrence this week was during the Tweetstorm that was last Friday, 27th July's opening ceremony. As tweeters clambered over each other to be the wittiest, cleverest or most dramatic microbloggers of the night, replies, retweets, hashtags and trends filled networks.

But it was Conservative MP Aidan Burley who quickly began to trend, a single tweet in which he referred to film director Danny Boyle's smorgasbord of UK cultural references and celebrations as "leftie multi-cultural crap" seeing him become focus of the ire of a nation, and beyond.

Negative comments poured in from the public, celebrities and even other Conservative MPs, and within minutes Burley had been forced to close his own account; a direct example of the level playing field Twitter can offer, as a vast democracy swept in to react to this voice. So important became Burley's legacy from the evening, that even Downing Street had to step in, a source from the prime minister's office later stating "we do not agree with him."

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