I Scream Social: Twitter leads the packWritten by Kevin Cesarz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Where were you when you discovered the big news event?
On Sept. 11, 2001, I heard a report on the BBC via National Public Radio that an aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center. Odd?
Moments later I casually walked into a department store and then stopped in front of a wall of display TVs. That wall of repeating images of the burning building is still etched into my brain. Something shattering was occurring. Television and radio led with the first words and images.
How did you discover the breaking news story of Osama bin Laden’s death?
Can’t sleep, must tweet
A tsunami of tweets began careening toward the highest traffic period ever for Twitter based upon one single tweet on Sunday night. IT consultant Sohaib Athar in Abbottabad, Pakistan was having trouble getting to sleep with all the helicopter noise near his house. Athar tweeted that perhaps a ‘flyswatter’ could tame the nearby noise. He then noted a loud explosion and then speculation, rumors, anticipation and commentary began cascading through Twitter averaging a scorching 3,440 tweets per second. Athar’s single opening tweet produced a new-found status as a source and 100,000 Twitter followers within a few days.
Former Navy Reserve intel officer Keith Urbahn then tweeted “that bin Laden had been killed,” a nugget that produced a record-shattering 5,106 tweets per second according to a Twitter spokesperson.
Look back at YouTube video of Sunday baseball between the Mets and Phillies and notice how many fans in their stadium seats were looking down at their smartphones and not up at the action on the field.
If you were not watching baseball or cable news you might have been alerted by a Tweet, SMS message or other alert on your mobile device. News organizations were playing catch-up.
Unscheduled viral events
Consider that events like the Royal Wedding, which peaked at 3,966 tweets per second and the Super Bowl (3,000 tweets per second) had held previous traffic records were scheduled events.
The bin Laden event was unexpected and not on any editorial calendar. There was no ‘helicopter assault on bin Laden’s hideout’ scheduled on May 1. These extraordinary numbers were produced by information seekers and content curators sharing and repeating the best intel and highlighting the best sources for more updates.
So that funny little social media tool with only 140 characters was the fire starter to a massive story. Where were you when bin Laden’s death was first tweeted?
Social Media Breakfast Toledo
Want to learn more about social media? John Hondroulis will speak about QR codes (matrix barcodes used for marketing) at the next Social Media Breakfast Toledo event (May 21) in Holland. SMB Toledo is a free event series that combines education, networking and breakfast for social media fans, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and non-profits. Find out more at SMB Toledo’s Facebook page.
Kevin Cesarz is the Director of Social Media and Web Project Manager at Thread Marketing Group in Maumee (www.threadgroup.com). He writes about social media and content strategy on his blog i scream social (klcesarz.wordpress.com).