Dublin Marathon 2016 – Twitter and Instagram Analysis

Aydali Campa is a junior at Arizona State University. She is currently studying abroad at Griffith College and interning with Olytico through the CAPA study abroad programme.


Now the fourth largest marathon in Europe, the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon sold out this year for the first time ever. The event known popularly as “the friendly marathon” took place on Sunday October 30th starting on Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin. Since finding that the turnout increased 4,500 from 15,500 brave participants the previous year, there was no doubt that there would be a buzz about it on social media. The record turnout of 19,500 participants was certainly reflected on social media with over 36,900 tweets and 1,484 posts on Instagram relating to the Dublin Marathon.

At Olytico we tracked social media activity surrounding the 37th Dublin Marathon in an effort to analyse the scale and reaction of the event online. Runners preparing for the marathon, loved ones cheering on the participants and fans in general celebrating the completion of the marathon drove conversation and content online. In addition, sponsors and other brands also took the opportunity to share their support for the city event bringing the content to an even wider audience.

Twitter Analysis

Twitter proved to be a popular platform as runners were able to easily share their progress or emotions and promote the event as the big day approached. At Olytico we tracked the marathon’s Twitter conversation from the start of 2016 to a couple of weeks after the race. There were small peaks during events that were part of the SSE Airtricity Dublin Race Series 2016 like the Frank Duffy 10 Mile (171 #FrankDuffyMile tweets), which took place on August 20th, and the Dublin Half Marathon (274 #DublinHalfMarathon tweets), on September 24th. On October 27th, the day before the Dublin Marathon Expo, the number of Dublin Marathon-related tweets noticeably increased.  Activity peaked on the day of the race (12,300 tweets, 8.1 million potential reach).

According to director Jim Aughney, the Dublin Marathon was strategically scheduled on a Sunday this year to attract more international entrants. The participation of more than 60 different nationalities was reflected on Twitter as the Dublin Marathon became a global topic of discussion online. It was talked about in more than 20 languages worldwide. Contributors from Spain, Germany, the U.S., the Unites Arab Emirates, Cambodia, South Africa and more tweeted about the event.

Between the start of this year and November 21st, a total of 11,700 contributors tweeted more than 36,900 tweets relating to the Dublin Marathon. The breakdown of this activity is as follows:

  • 17,500 original tweets


  • 6,316 replies

  • 19.7 million potential reach

  • 3,847 potential impressions per tweet

#DublinMarathon was the official hashtag of the event as it was promoted by the official Dublin Marathon twitter handle @DublinMarathon. The hashtag began to pick up pace on Twitter a couple of weeks before the race generating a total of 41.1 million potential impressions.

Top Contributors

FM104 Dublin’s Hit Music Station was the top Dublin Marathon contributor on Twitter publishing 110 tweets that generated a total of 12.3 million impressions. Dublin Marathon’s official Twitter handle predictably tweeted the most with a total of 653 tweets, which generated 8.5 million potential impressions making it the second top contributor. The top contributors are as follows in order of impressions:

  1. @FM104 (110 tweets, 12.3 million potential impressions)

  2. @DublinMarathon (653 tweets, 8.5 million potential impressions)

  3. @Mashable (1 tweet, 7.9 million potential impressions)

  4. @TheJournal_ie (16 tweets, 7.2 million potential impressions)

  5. @IrishTimes (23 tweets, 7.1 million potential impressions)

Top Performing Tweets

Mashable’s tweet featuring their article about the legendary French participant who ran the marathon wearing an Eiffel Tower costume generated the 7.9 million potential impressions, making it the top performing tweet relating to the event.

What did people tweet?

Marathon Twitter Word Cloud

The word cloud contains the top 100 terms found in the more than 36,900 tweets analysed. The larger the word, the more often it was mentioned. A key finding was the positivity of the tweets. Words like amazing (490 mentions), congrats (728), support (665) and luck (2,955) were just some of the words that alluded to the tweets of supporters and enthusiasts cheering on the runners. DublinMarathon (30,623), marathon (14,061), and Dublin (10,070) were the most mentioned terms. Marathon-related words followed such as time (5,318), running (3,820), finish (3,681), mile (3,645) and crossed (3,082). Another interesting finding was the popularity of the man who wore the Eiffel (917) tower costume throughout the entire race.


Instagram Analysis

Although we found Instagram activity peaked on the day of the event, it continued to trend significantly afterwards as runners posted pictures and videos of their marathon effort and celebrating with their medals.


1,276 unique accounts posted a total of 2,102 images and 98 videos, which generated 2.3 million potential impressions. Of those posts, 1,484 (1,415 images and 69 videos) mentioned the official hashtag #DublinMarathon and generated the following activity:



  • 3 million potential reach

  • 3 million potential impressions

While the official hashtag #DublinMarathon was the most used hashtag on both Twitter and Instagram, users also mentioned variations like #DublinMarathon2016 (491 posts), #DublinCityMarathon (264), #DublinCityMarathon2016 (134) and #SSEDublinMarathon (66). Dublin Marathon’s official Instagram handle @DublinMarathon was also mentioned in users’ Instagram posts.


Top Contributor 

FM104 Dublin’s Hit Music Station posted during the marathon about their presence at the event cheering on the runners and roaming around in their red Volkswagen beetles making them the top contributor for Instagram as well. The popular radio station generated a total of 336,600 potential impressions from 11 Dublin Marathon posts.



Top Posts

The most popular Instagram post generated 1,849 likes and was posted by InstaRunners, an Instagram account that reposts running-related posts from around the world. InstaRunners reposted a picture originally published by a runner and generated a total of 271,800 potential impressions.


The Guinness Storehouse posted an image of the Storehouse, which generated 1,411 likes. The second top post encouraged supporters to stop by the Guinness Storehouse during the marathon and guessing from its popularity many did pop in to have a pint or two.



The online presence of sponsors, organisers, participants and supporters lived up to the Dublin Marathon’s new award as the “Best Mass Participation Event” by the Irish Sports Industry Awards. While thousands waved posters and shouted from the sidelines, many from across the world cheered through images, videos and tweets. At this time when social media has become part of our everyday lives, runners not only fed off the supporters lined up against the course, but off fellow runners and enthusiasts that also shared their excitement online as the event approached. Now runners can experience the amazing feeling of running past the finish line with families cheering and then also go home to document the memorable experience online for more loved ones to become a part of.



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