Standout performances at the Olympics not only increase athletes' endorsement potential. A strong showing can expand their social media profile as well.
No American athlete in Sochi has sent a bigger tremor through Twitter than T.J. Oshie, when the Team USA forward connected four times on six shootout attempts to knock off host Russia in men’s ice hockey competition. Oshie’s Twitter follower count spiked from about 88,000 the day of Sochi’s Opening Ceremony to more than 244,000 as of Wednesday morning.
But Oshie isn’t the only athlete making the most of the extra exposure that comes with success in Sochi. Several U.S. Olympians have proven the surest way to pad their follower count is to snag a gold medal. According to Twitter Counter, an online tool used to track statistics on users' accounts, the following American Olympic champions benefitted from a gold medal bounce.
Sage Kotsenburg: @sagekotsenburg
Followers the day of men's slopestyle snowboarding gold medal win: 19,641 (Feb. 8); followers the day after: 46,034 (+134%)
Jamie Anderson: @Jme_Anderson
Followers the day of women's slopestyle snowboarding gold medal win: 20,268 (Feb. 9); followers the day after: 30,315 (+49.6%)
Kaitlyn Farrington: @KaitlynFarr
Followers the day of women's halfpipe snowboarding gold medal win: 6,588 (Feb. 12); followers the day after: 9,874 (+49.9%)
Joss Christensen: @josschristensen
Followers the day of men's slopestyle skiing gold medal win: 9,723 (Feb. 13); followers the day after: 14,634 (+50.5%)
Meryl Davis: @Meryl_Davis
Followers the day of pairs ice dancing gold medal win: 44,217 (Feb. 17); followers the day after: 62,709 (+41.8%)
Charlie White: @CharlieaWhite
Followers the day of pairs ice dancing gold medal win: 40,123 (Feb. 17); followers the day after: 51,540 (+28.5%)
Even though Christensen won the men's slopestyle skiing Olympic title, silver medalist Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) is getting the more significant Twitter bump. Kenworthy had about 14,000 Twitter followers prior to the Opening Ceremony, but that figure has swelled above 100,000.
Kenworthy's growing Twitter presence can be attributed to the news he's generating outside of his event. The 22-year-old became a social media favorite because of his efforts to help adopt stray puppies in Sochi. It also doesn't hurt to tweet at Miley Cyrus and get mentioned to her 17 million-plus followers.
Newly-crowned gold medalists David Wise (@mrDavisWise) and Ted Ligety's (@tedligety) Twitter handles will likely see a healthy trickle of new followers as well in the hours ahead. And wIth a few days of competition left in Sochi, there's still time for more names to leave a mark.
For athletes in sports that only receive mainstream coverage once every four years, the Olympics provide a precious two-week window to engage with the public.
"They only have one shot at getting in the zeitgeist," said Walter Delph, CEO of Adly, which helps advertisers connect with public figures to post promoted messages on social media. "Grab the followers, grab the volume now because that is the best opportunity."
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