Usain Bolt will be the Jonathan Ross of 2012

Usain Bolt: short, cropped hair, champion sprinter, middle name St. Leo, winner of three Olympic gold medals. Jonathan Ross: long, wavy hair, TV present, middle name Stephen, winner of three BAFTAs.

An incongruous pair, you may think. But one thing will bring them together in 2012: social media.

Jonathan Ross, back in January 2009, played a major role in taking Twitter from the geeky niche into the mainstream tool it is now – not only used by many but popping up every week in one form or another in the mass media outlets. It was Jonathan Ross’s comeback show, with Twitter-fan Stephen Fry as a guest, which triggered a flood of extra interest and members. In fact, all through that period of sharp growth it was the adoption of the tool by non-technical celebrities which attracted a much bigger, and different, audience to the social networking tool.

Which is where Usain Bolt comes in. His speed and style makes him a sporting figure who appeals well beyond the die-hard fans of sprinting. His stage this summer will be the Olympics, a global stage that appeals well beyond even general sporting fans. And this will be the first Olympics in which social media plays a dominant role in the coverage and the buzz between spectators, fans and participants.

Whether it is the Tour de France or the Super Bowl, other recent high profile sporting events have shown what a difference social media can make. Except they are minnows compared to the reach of the Olympics.

Which means just as Jonathan Ross talking Twitter on a national TV show brought in a whole range of new and different people to that social media network, Usain Bolt and colleagues this summer will bring social media to a whole new and different audience too.

Whatever you use of social media at the moment, expect your actual or potential audiences to be much bigger and more diverse by the end of the Olympics.

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