Openly gay gold medal-winning diver Matthew Mitcham is the most influential athlete on the Australian team at this year’s London Olympics, according to a PR firm in his home country.
Edelman Public Relations’s TweetLevel is one of a number of ranking systems to have been designed for the micro-blogging platform to determine a user’s popularity and reach.
Out of all the athletes Australia has sent to London, the firm says it ranks Mitcham the most influential online.
Mitcham has kept his followers, who have grown in number over the Games to over 28,700, entertained by documenting his activities around the Olympic Village through photographs and videos.
Highlights of the diver’s social media stream have included a photograph of him surrounded by Vegemite products, the yeast extract paste stereotypically associated with Australians, and videoed renditions of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies and the Family Guy theme tune on his ukulele:
Australia’s Gay News Network drew attention to the TweetLevel findings which suggest the antipodean athlete’s endearing updates and engagement with other Twitter users have earned him a more devoted following than any other Australian competing at the Games.
The size of Mitcham’s Twitter following has grown quickly over the Games but other athletes still outstrip him on this front. Cyclist Cadel Evans has 185,000 followers. Swimmer Stephanie Rice, whose use of a gay slur on Twitter landed her in trouble with sponsors two years ago, has over 90,000.
But according to Edelman, the 24-year-old’s approach to social media has means he is more influential overall when scores for engagement and trust are taken into account alongside popularity.
Matthew Gain, Director of Brand and Digital Marketing at the firm said: “Sheer follower numbers alone are not the only indication of an individual’s influence on Twitter, the rate of engagement with your followers and how many RTs you generate all impact your influence.”
Mitcham took gold in the 10m men’s platform diving at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He will compete in the same event again this year against Britain’s Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield on Friday evening.