LONDON – Michael Phelps sends pictures of his dogs in swimming gear. Jordyn Wieber and the rest of the U.S. gymnasts posed for a snapshot with Ryan Lochte. Track star Lolo Jones updates her followers on her training and television habits.
Many of the top Olympians have active Twitter accounts, and the social media website is hoping to capitalize on its growing popularity during the London Games.
Twitter is partnering with NBC Sports on an Olympics event page that will offer a curated feed of the most popular posts from the games. The site, which goes live Thursday, is meant to go hand-in-hand with the broadcast coverage, giving users a real-time place to react to what they see on TV.
"The primary thing we're focused on with the events page is we want to bring the audience closer to the Olympics," said Andrew Fitzgerald, the manager of editorial programming for Twitter. "And what that means in practical terms is we're really interested in tweets from athletes themselves, tweets from the organizing committee, tweets from people who are on the ground at the games."
Sporting events are responsible for the majority of the top moments measured in tweets per second. Spain's 4-0 win over Italy in the European Championship soccer final on July 1 registered 15,358 tweets per second at its highest level and prompted 16.5 million tweets in all.
But the amount of activity during top sporting events can be difficult for users to manage, especially Twitter novices. Concerned about the experience for newcomers, Twitter first tried the event page concept at NASCAR's Pocono 400 in June, then did it for a couple more races before rolling it out again for the Euro 2012 tournament.
"Our goal is with these event pages how do we make that volume accessible for any user and also make it as high of quality as possible," Fitzgerald said.
There are several other social media sites planning for increased attention during the games.
Facebook rolled out its "Explore London 2012" in June, featuring links to pages for current and former Olympic athletes, sports, broadcasters and national teams. The site is offered in 22 million different languages.
"The Olympics has been connecting fans with memorable sporting events and moments for more than a century, first in the stadiums, then through television and now on social media," Mark Adams, the International Olympic Committee's communications director, said in June. "It makes sense to give fans the best experience we can and these will be the first truly 'social' games.
"I'm sure that through Facebook and all of our other social media channels we will manage to bring a new dimension to the games for a new audience."
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap