This year’s Summer Olympic Games had no shortage of stories that were prime social media fodder. From record-breaking career triumphs to heartwarming tales of true sportsmanship (and let’s not forget a scandal or two in between), Rio had it all in 2016.

Now that the Games have recently wrapped up, we thought it would be interesting to crunch the numbers and see who exactly was dominating the online conversation around the 2016 Olympics. For this study specifically, we looked at posts and engagement from anonymized U.S.-based users on Facebook. You can learn more about our methodology for this study here.

So who took home Facebook engagement gold this summer? Let’s take a cue from the Olympic swimmers and dive in.

Winners: Middle-aged men
In general, the Olympic buzz on Facebook tended to skew older this year. Across all demographics, men 45 to 54 years old were the most likely to discuss and engage with content related to the Games. When broken down by gender alone, men as a whole were more likely to turn to Facebook for all things Rio.

Regardless of gender, the most engaged age range was 45 to 54 year olds, followed closely by those ages 35 to 44.

Winners: Men
One could say that men kept the Olympic flame burning on Facebook during the 2016 Olympics. The second-highest engaged demographic overall were men ages 55 to 64, followed by men 35 to 44 years old.

For women, those in the 35 to 44 age range were the most likely to discuss the Games on Facebook.

Winners: Millennials
It appears that millennials were the least likely to feel the Olympic heat on Facebook this summer. For both males and females, the 18 to 24 year old age bracket was the least likely to post or engage with Olympic-related content, followed by those 25 to 34 years old. In fact, across all segments, females ages 18 to 24 were the least likely to post about the Olympics on Facebook.

To summarize, the Facebook users that were were most likely to engage with and post Olympic-related content were typically men ages 35 and up, with 45 to 54 year olds taking home gold engagement-wise. Younger generations spanning ages 18 to 34 were the least Olympic-minded on Facebook this year, and only time can tell if they’ll be more inclined to engage with Olympic content in 2020.

Given these findings, there are a few courses of action that publishers may want to consider if they’re looking to cash in on the next Olympic craze — and similar major sporting events. Since older men were the most engaged demographic this year, it may be worthwhile to double down on Facebook posts and content that appeal to that swath of the public. It’s also possible to imagine a more advanced approach, wherein publishers analyze their data to uncover the Olympic-related topics most appealing to each demographic, create content according to their research, then target that content specifically to those audiences on Facebook.

See you in four years, Tokyo.


The results of this study are based on anonymized data from over 4 million Facebook users who are part of Keywee’s network of publishing clients. We monitored Facebook activity for these users across all topics to determine which demographics were most likely to discuss the Olympics and engage with Olympic-related content on Facebook. The results were normalized and weighted, and those deemed most likely to post or engage with Olympic-related content were the segments with the highest Olympic to non-Olympic post/engagement ratio.

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