Published on Aug 11th, 2016
by Jack Weinstein
Wednesday was a big day for Team USA in Rio. Michael Phelps won his 21st gold medal, his 12th individual gold tying a 2,168-year-old record . And everyone continued celebrating the dominance of the Final Five in the women’s team gymnastics final.
Team USA has won 32 medals , including 11 gold, to lead China (23), Japan (18), Russia (15) and Australia (12). Given their success, we wanted to see whether that translated to social. So we evaluated the total social engagement generated by American athletes since the Olympics began this past Friday.
Not surprisingly, two members of the Final Five, Aly Raisman and Simone Biles, topped the list of most-engaged Team USA members. And Michael Phelps took third.
Raisman led Team USA on Instagram with more than 2 million actions. She was followed by Biles, women’s soccer star Alex Morgan and Phelps, who each generated more than 1 million actions on the platform. Phelps won Facebook with nearly 483,000 actions, followed by Serena Williams and Morgan. Biles topped all Americans on Twitter with nearly 363,000 actions, followed by Reisman and Morgan.
Swimmer Missy Franklin has generated 53% of his engagement from video content, the highest percentage among Team USA athletes. However, Phelps has generated the most total engagement from videos with more than 200,000 actions.
There’s a trend among the most-engaged American athletes on social. They tend to generate the most engagement with posts not just about their individual accomplishments, but by celebrating the achievements of their teams.
Raisman Leads Instagram
Four of Raisman’s five most-engaged posts featured her teammates, including the top post, which generated more than 202,000 actions.
While many of her most-engaged posts featured her # FinalFive teammates , she also generated engagement by posting selfies that showed off her eye makeup , which is strategy for generating engagement on Instagram . Also among her top posts were photos with Olympians from other teams, including British diver Tom Daley and Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic .
Raisman has generated 38% of her total social engagement this year in the time since the Olympics began.
Phelps Wins Facebook
In addition to generating the most actions of any Team USA member on Facebook, Phelps also published the most-engaged post on any platform among his American athletes. His post celebrating the 200-meter butterfly victory over rival Chad de Clos , his 20th gold medal and 24th overall, generated more than 343,000 actions on Instagram. The same post on Facebook captured nearly 216,000 actions.
While Phelps’ top post celebrated an individual win, the rest of his most-engaged posts feature his teammates , members of Team USA Basketball and his family .
Phelps also has the distinction among Team USA members of having the most actions per post with more than 150,000, nearly 5x his average for the year.
Biles Tops Twitter
Like her teammate Aly Raisman, Biles top tweet celebrated the Americans’ victory in the team competition by a record 8 points, the largest margin of victory since the scoring format changed 10 years ago. Biles’ tweet featured teammates Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez on the podium. It generated nearly 114,000 actions, more than any tweet by an American Olympian since the games began.
The same post generated nearly 237,000 actions on Instagram , where Biles captured most of her engagement. Another of Biles’ top instagram post featured a tribute to coach and national team coordinator Marta Karolyi. Karolyi is retiring after the Olympics , which are also switching to a four-person format at the 2020 Summer games in Tokyo.
Biles has exceeded her average weekly social engagement by 12x during the first week of the Olympics.
Because these athletes are the most-engaged Team USA Olympians, they present some of the best opportunities for brands looking to partner with social influencers. But we’ll get into that more next week.
We'll continue producing more Olympics content throughout the games. Check back with the Shareablee blog for more.