British triathlon heroes, the Brownlee brothers, in Twitter war
In a home Olympic Games, even more so, success is sure to reward an athlete with more attention, sponsorship and funding but in an era of socially driven sports through sites such as Twitter and Facebook which allows a fan to feel closer to their favourite sports stars a few thousand more likes and follows can take you to the next level of stardom. An athlete has never been more marketable than with an online following in the thousands where one tweet could sell a line of clothing or direct fans towards book signings or other public appearances with the click of a button.
For the Brownlee brothers, already marketable as two British Olympic medallists in the same sport even before you mention that they are siblings, this has already become reality. Alastair has seen his Twitter following rise by almost 50% to over 44,000 after claiming gold in the triathlon event at London 2012 according to Wildfire stats posted on the Huffington Post UK website. Bronze medallist Jonny, however, has seen a meteoric rise in followers, up by over 70% to more than 31,000 followers since finishing third in his event. To put this large increase in not only following but interaction the picture above received 220 re-tweets and 92 favourites (at time of publishing) when tweeted by Alistair compared to just 10 re-tweets and 2 favourites combined of two pictures that he posted on the 1 and 8 June respectively.
The Yorkshire pair should reap the marketing and financial rewards of such achievements and are even more profitable for potential sponsors with such large, increasing fanbases. For now, however, they seem much more relaxed about their followings and only determined to outdo each other in followers through good, old-fashioned brotherly competitiveness which has seen the pair reach the heights of their sport together. When being welcomed on to the BBC's evening coverage of their Olympic success, host Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) tweeted, "The boys are in the building. Good ?'s so far but @jonny_brownlee is desperate to get more followers than @alibrownleetri :) U can help". As noted by Carol Bates (@CarolBates) it is hard to think of following one without the other considering their likeability as a pair, "@mrdanwalker @jonny_brownlee @alibrownleetri How could you possibly follow one without the other? Looks like more work needed just for JB!"