Breaking Down the Top Facebook Posts about the Olympics

Published on Aug 19th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

It’s been an amazing two weeks of competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From record-breaking performances of swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky to the utter dominance of the USA Gymnastics’ #FinalFive, and more, this Olympics has been full of incredible stories.

In our last daily Olympics post , we break down the Top Facebook content about the games posted by brands, media publishers, TV networks, TV shows and athletes to better understand what type of social video performed best on the platform.

The Top 1,000 Facebook posts about the Olympics generated 46.2 million actions, an average of 46,300 actions per post. We broke that down by content type (photo, video, link and status) and by type of actions (like, comments and shares).


As you can see, videos accounted for 28% of the Top 1,000 posts about the Olympics. And they generated more shares than photos or links, which accounted for the majority of the rest of the content. Status updates, four posts by Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, generated 0.2% of the engagement of the top Olympics posts.

Those videos generated 24% of their engagement from shares. That’s 3x more than links (8%) and photos (7%). Video is highly shareable .

Consider the top overall video about the Olympics. The New York Times video about why Simone Biles is so good generated nearly 1.1 million actions, including 47% from shares. The video was also viewed 48 million times. Biles is an incredible story and this video helps illustrate why she’s so successful in ways that can’t be described as she competes.

NBC Olympics uses highlights, as the exclusive broadcaster of the Olympics, to drive engagement like no other social publisher can. It’s top post features Michelle Carter, first American woman to win gold in shot put. It generated 31% of its nearly 600,000 actions from shares.

Live Video Drives Engagement

Michael Phelps posted the most-engaged Facebook live video, which generated more than 540,000 actions. But unlike recorded video, live video generates more engagement from comments and Phelps’ is a perfect example. He answered fan questions for 55 minutes and the video generated half of its engagement from comments and 3.9 million views. Fans will engage when stars take the behind the scenes .


Aside from Phelps’ live video, NBC posted four of its own Facebook Live videos. They averaged 34% of their engagement from comments. Their top live video featured USA Gymnasts Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman.

Average Actions per Post

Those four posts also averaged 68,600 actions, 48% more engagement than the average Top 1,000 Facebook post. That’s the most of any content type, though recorded video also performed far better than the average post.

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