Who takes the Social Gold? The Winter Olympics’ biggest stories

With the Winter Olympics well under way in Sochi, we took a look at our data from Spike to see what snow-related stories really got people sharing.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 14.39.00There have been plenty of talking points in the run-up and throughout the Games – controversy surrounding host nation Russia’s attitude towards LGBT rights, questionable facilities and preparations, and finally, the events themselves. Today, we learned that ‘Sochi Olympics’ became the most-muted ever topic (blocked from followers’ feeds) on NBC’s Breaking News Service as well as attracting the second most alerts of any topic.

As of yesterday (February 17), the most-shared Winter Olympics story came from the Washington Post. ‘Journalists at Sochi are live-tweeting their hilarious and gross hotel stories‘, published on February 4 – before a single slope had been skied – picked up over 440,000 Facebook interactions and was tweeted 26,500 times.

Team Canada Take Social Gold

Scanning the headlines of the biggest Sochi stories in Spike, it’s clear to see that Canada have captured the imagination of social media users. BuzzFeed’s10 Ways Canada Have Already Won the Winter Olympics‘ certainly appealed to many, with over 250,000 Facebook interactions since being published on February 12. Elsewhere, MSN’s coverage of the fridge that dispenses beer in exchange for a Canadian Passport scan was hugely popular, as was Business Insider’s report on the Canadian ski coach who helped a member of an opposing team over the line.

Gay Rights in the Spotlight

Another huge talking point of the Games have been the host nation’s questionable attitude towards LGBT rights, with Sochi’s mayor claiming that no gay people lived in his city in the run-up to the opening ceremony. Many publishers, brands and groups around the world reacted to this with gusto. The Guardian’s coverage of Google’s Gay Rights doodle on the opening day was shared almost 125,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.

The New York Times Gets Creative

Elsewhere, the New York Times have put serious effort into their coverage of the Olympics this year. Their coverage included several stunning interactive features explaining some of the Games’ more hair-raising sports. Readers can see what it’s like to take the plunge on a luge, or get an idea of what it’s like to jump off a ski ramp at 60mph. We recorded The Times’ most socially successful Winter Olympics piece to date as their profile explaining the ins and outs of the Giant Slalom.

#SochiProblems

Looking through the most-shared headlines, it’s obvious that the games’ questionable preparations did not go escape attention on Facebook and Twitter. Among the most-shared pieces were stories with titles such as ‘Proof that Sochi is a Godforsaken Hellscape Right Now‘, often fuelled by the steady stream of bizarre reports coming from journalists, athletes and other visitors, many coming via the Twitter hashtag #SochiProblems.

Meanwhile, the most viral piece of the whole event might just be Sad and Useless’s ingeniously simple collection of figure-skaters’ facial close-ups, freeze-framed for maximum hilarity. Published last Sunday, it was already the sixth most-shared piece of Sochi content by yesterday afternoon and has shown no sign of slowing down since. It’s the simple things.

Below, check out the top 10 most-shared Sochi stories (as of yesterday afternoon). All data comes courtesy of our content discovery platform Spike, which tracks what people all over the world are sharing on social media, in real time.