How Olympic athletes are engaging fans on Twitter

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Olympians participating in the #Sochi2014 Winter Games are at the center of a global conversation, and they’re taking advantage of their moment in the spotlight by endearing themselves to millions on Twitter.

The athletes are building big follower bases as they compete and medal at the Games, and simultaneously they’re nurturing relationships by engaging with fans. Here’s a look at some of the medal-worthy ways Olympians have been using the platform:

Polling fans
American skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender (@KatieU11) asked her followers and a few choice accounts for their advice:

She told the Chicago Tribune that it was an impromptu decision: “I just decided to tweet a photo of both helmets and see what the public thought. I wasn’t sure about changing helmets just before the Olympics was a good idea and it blew up,” she said to Tribune. “There were like a thousand Tweets about it. I decided to… let them pick my helmet.”

Uhlaender didn’t just tally the votes. She answered questions, and thanked her fans for their suggestions.

Tweeting a day in the life

Ashley Caldwell (@AshleySkis), a member of the U.S. Ski Team, tweeted “a day in the life as an athlete at Sochi” using the hashtag #SochiLife. She announced this to her followers before sharing photos of the Olympic rings and her made bed.

Her photos and commentary gave her followers a sense of what life in the Olympic Village is like. Since her day-in-the-life tweeting, Caldwell’s follower count has increased by 58 percent, according to Twitter internal data. That day she saw 174 retweets (11 times her average) and 693 favorites (23 times her average).

Meanwhile, American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg), who earned the first gold medal of these Games, also tweeted some day-in-the-life moments, such as pondering about bacon and posing for pictures with Russian military. Along with his success on the slopes has come newfound celebrity. He even got a shoutout from @KobeBryant on his win.


Photos are a great way to tell a story and make fans feel like they are there with you. Olympians have been tweeting #SochiSelfies throughout the games. The athletes have also been taking photos with each other, showing a sense of team spirit for their countries and camaraderie amongst the athletes.

Do you know of other innovative uses of Twitter? Write to [email protected].