This past Saturday (Worse. Derby. Result. Ever.) I was drinking mint juleps and playing an unruly amount of Wiffle Ball (Tommy and I won 18-8) instead of tweeting. If Wiffle Ball were made available to others, perhaps Twitter wouldn’t have been aflutter, but Twitter soared with over 264,000 tweets Saturday. This marks a 633 percent jump from Derby 137, when Animal Kingdom won with only 36,000 tweets.
According to Blue Fin Labs, the breakdown for Saturday’s tweeting had four distinct spikes and one marked dip.
1. Mary J. Blige singing the National Anthem.
I didn’t see this, but the tweeting popped up to about 1,000 tweets a minute. Not bad considering she succeeded in keeping her clothes on.
2. Singing of My Old Kentucky Home.
Now we’re talking. The juice starts flowing. People who have never heard of this song try to follow along with the captions and cannot. For a great version of this song, visit this wonderful link.
All that pregnant energy from a day’s worth of handicapping, mint julep imbibing, Porta-John hurdling, beautiful women-gazing, sundress admiring, surged with close to 3,000 tweets a minute.
Then nothing. Well, virtually nothing.
3. Steep drop in commentary as race goes off.
Union Rags gets pinched. Bodemeister explodes like a shook-up can o’Coke. Trinniberg questions his horsehood. Calvin Borel cuddles the fence like a Teddy Bear.
The analysis of the social media trending addressed the spike. “People often ask us, ‘Does tweeting stop during major moments on TV?’ The answer is that it really depends: what type of event is it, how long the ‘moment’ lasts, cultural significance of the event, etc. But for the 2 minute stretch when the Kentucky Derby race actually took place, the answer is clear: tweeting slowed significantly. And immediately after the race ended, tweeting activity immediately went through the roof.”
Of course! Attention from iPhones, Droids, and laptops can be arrested for only so long. So much happens and so much happens quickly that you’d be a fool to be tweeting during any 10-12 furlong race. Most of us in the know were watching the fractions go up and our collective jaws dropped when Bodemeister opened up when he turned for home. If there was time to tweet it would’ve looked something like this:
“Bodemeister can’t keep up this pace. #niceridemikesmith #tickedoffbaffert #kyderby”
“Baffert/Zayat had Pioneerof the Nile now THIS! #freak #kyderby”
We’d miss too much by tweeting during the event. Which leads us to:
4. I’ll Have Another overtakes Bodemeister
7,000 tweets a minute after Doug O’Neil’s horse stormed down the track to win by a length. Twitter blew up. Fans and reporters alike took 140 characters and made it work. This is a LOT of tweeting.
The sport worries about generating new fans. That can’t be the case. The sport has very passionate fans already it can’t afford to lose. Let them be the ones who bring in new fans. And as of this posting, this image has been tweeted 82 times. Social media, and especially twitter, may be where the future of horse racing lies.
Brendan O'Meara tweets @BrendanOMeara and blogs about his narrative work at The Blog Itself.