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Twitter and the Death of Bin Laden zThe reportage of the death of Bin Laden highlighted the importance of Twitter as a tool for journalists, citizen journalists,

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Presentation on theme: "Twitter and the Death of Bin Laden zThe reportage of the death of Bin Laden highlighted the importance of Twitter as a tool for journalists, citizen journalists,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Twitter and the Death of Bin Laden zThe reportage of the death of Bin Laden highlighted the importance of Twitter as a tool for journalists, citizen journalists, PR practitioners and corporate decision- makers.

2 So what happened? Let’s just recap for the people who were in a coma that week...

3 First hint the world had zPoor Sohaib Athar. A random Tweet that some noisy helicopters next door are annoying him. He didn’t know the neighbours too well, clearly.


5 And when the penny dropped... zSohaib chooses to Tweet again.

6 Credited with ‘breaking’ the story zThis guy had contacts in US government. But not too many followers …

7 Luckily, Keith Urbahn had New York Times journalist, Brian Stelter, as one of his followers.

8 Here’s what Stelter said, and the effect the reTweet had...

9 Within minutes...

10 Tweets highest rate second only to NYE 2010

11 58% Sourced News of Bin Laden Death on Twitter From Wikileaks

12 So, class: How did you find out?

13 Why Twitter and not other Social Media? Because Twitter is a feed. On Facebook or YouTube, you need to seek out the information. Hard to do if you don’t know it yet.

14 And why didn’t most of us hear it on traditional media first? We’ll get to that in a minute ….

15 After hours of waiting... President Obama appears on television to confirm the death of Bin Laden. But most of the world already knew about it. This gave the celebrities something to Tweet about as they watched.

16 Everyone was way ahead by then... ReTweeting celebrity Tweets, following trending topics. Moving away from news to the jokes and who should get the credit.

17 Let’s consider what journalists need to consider about the Bin Laden death reported on Twitter...

18 Twitter’s not journalism but it’s used for journalism … HUH?? Brian Solis to Jon Swartz of USA Today:...the Twitter News Network (TNN) proved once again that it is the live wire for everyday people to break news. When Keith Urbahn @keithurbahn published the first credible report that the U.S. killed Bin Laden, TNN was also the people’s news source. Is it the biggest event in social media? It is among them, but that’s not the point. What it does signify however is that the gap between events and reporting is where Twitter shines as a human seismograph. Italics mine. ‘The News No Longer Breaks It Tweets’

19 The space between an event and when the media fact check it That’s right. It’s the Public Sphere idea. Twitter is making us all feel more connected. More private. Less public. Also why we didn’t hear the story first from traditional media. Journalists like to check their facts.

20 Privatisation of Public Sphere “We are literally making the world a much smaller place. Tied to connectedness, Twitter is equally magnificent at merging reach and velocity. The ability to propel news as reported by everyday people around the world in minutes consistently is as wonderful as it is surprising.” Brian Solis, ‘News No Longer Breaks It Tweets’

21 Connected in seconds... In less than 12 hours since the tweeting began we saw almost 40,000 blog post and news articles and an astounding 2.2 million tweets all talking about Osama Bin Laden

22 RT takes a moment... The Bin Laden news peaked at 11 pm EDT with 5,106 Tweets per second (TPS) following the all time TPS high set by NYE 2010 at 6,939 TPS. Most notably, According to Twitter, the news event held the highest sustained rate of Tweets to date, hitting 3,000 TPS between 10:45 and 2:20 am, climbing to 38,7 million tweets in just 3.5 hours.

23 So if Twitter is so fantastic, do we need journalism? … Um YEAH! zJack Dorsey, Twitter creator, ackowledges the service he invented spreads both truth and disinformation at equal speed. zWho remembers quotes from this guy (~>) on Twitter after Bin Laden died? Source: ‘Bin Laden news reinforces Twitter’s strength, limitations’ (CNN)

24 Fact checking is still needed, Mr Lincoln. The Martin Luther King Jr ‘quote’ about refusing to celebrate the loss of life, even of an enemy, is not a quote. Sarah Dovey wrote a Facebook status that was “mashed together” with words from MLK about light overcoming darkness. In fact, there are Tweets, supposedly from C19th American President Abraham Lincoln about how internet quotes should be checked for accuracy. Raycom News Network 2011

25 Oh the irony! The very thing that makes Twitter great at breaking a story will also mean it can never be a news service without some other service to support it. 140 characters is enough to break a story, but not enough to explain the 5W’s and an H.

26 The Bin Laden death showed that, like most things, Twitter has pros and cons. So how can journalists use it wisely? zNews breaks on Twitter. Why? Because writing 140 characters is easier than writing 300 words. Stay on top of the conversation by staying on top of what other journalists are tweeting about. zOne of the hardest parts to writing a story is finding your sources. Poll your 5,000-plus Twitter followers. zTrends and hashtags tell you what the good stuff is and saves you time. zThe difference between a good journalist and a great journalist is the ability to come up with fresh, creative ideas. Be inspired by that talk online. zThanks to Erin Everhardt of 352 Media Group for these “Agony Aunt” suggestions.

27 Let’s think now about Citizen Journalism. How has the Bin Laden death on Twitter affected that?

28 TWITTER OSAMA BIN LADEN AND THE NEW WAVE OF CITIZEN JOURNALISM zBefore: zKarlsson (2010) “although signs of increasing user participation in many forms have appeared, professional journalists still create, shape, and select most news content.” zNow: zAccording to Arnnet: ‘Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis said he first learned that bin Laden had been killed on Twitter, not on television.’ z"After first seeing one or two tweets on the subject, I quickly did a hashtag search to verify that what I was reading was being referenced by a large number of people and linked to a reputable news source. It was BBC News in this case," he added. "After that little process, I felt as though I could trust what I was reading and that I had been informed of the news from many different vantage points, each with independent motivations, backgrounds, national histories. I find that process much more trustworthy than listening to a single TV station.” z zKarlsson, Michael(2011) 'FLOURISHING BUT RESTRAINED', Journalism Practice, 5: 1, 68 — 84, First published on: 13 May 2010 (iFirst)

29 Three people were instrumental in reporting about Osama Bin Laden’s demise. zSohaib Athar: a Pakistani IT consultant based in Abbatttabad (lived tweeted the Bin Laden Raid) Twitter following before OBL: 960 Twitter following after OBL: 96 000 zKeith Urbahn: the former Chief of Staff in Donald Rumsfeld’s office (leaked news of OBL’s death through one tweet) Twitter following before OBL: 1 016 Twitter following after OBL: 8 243 zBrian Stelter: a digital media reporter for the New York Times (re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet and disseminated it through Twitter via exposure to his following) Twitter following before OBL: 57 535 Twitter following after OBL: 59 308

30 How did Athar’s tweets spread? Through ‘bridges’, influential people from unrelated networks. zSteve Myers- “Another key type of player is the “bridge,” someone who connects two distinct networks. Cut that connection, and there’s no other way for something to move from one part of the network to the other. z an-unwitting-witness-to-bin-ladens-death-into-a-citizen-journalist/

31 What about Keith Urbahn and Brian Stelter? zUrbahn’s tweet came 38 minutes after the announcement about the presidential address, becoming a highly thought after piece of information. zBrian Stelter was a reliable and influential source, who played a key role in spreading Urbahn’s tweet. z

32 The OBL affair reveals that: zThere are ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ citizen journalists. zThe indirect citizen journalists pick up the news item from the direct citizen journalist and effectively spread it. zThey have a mutually dependent relationship.

33 So for the Public Relations Practitioners out there; what has the Twitter reporting of Bin Laden taught us?

34 Basics first: what is Public Relations? zManaging communication between an organisation and its publics zAnd what does that involve? zPropaganda! (We WILL mention the war!) zEvolution of Public Relations and why it worked that way.

35 Public Relations and the Public Sphere. Yes, there’s a connection. zThe theory: what it should mean to the PR Professional? zThe reality: What is it actually?

36 Public Sphere. Twittersphere. zHow modern communications affects the public sphere zHow Twitter relates and can be an enabler and a battleground for a PR Professional.

37 Twitter and the PR Professional zDo’s zDon’ts

38 And what can we learn from Bin Laden here? zHow the Bin Laden “takedown” worked. zHow it didn’t work.

39 How far does this Twitter thing go? Let’s think about the implications on the corporate and decision-making world of the Bin Laden death / Twitter situation...

40 Bin Laden Twitter’s ‘CNN moment’ “Remember CNN when the Gulf War started in 1990? Before then, it was watched mostly by obsessive news followers -- people in finance and government, political science professors, insomniacs. “Then Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and suddenly CNN was everywhere. Even in bars. “That's what's going to happen with Twitter after tonight's announcement that U.S. Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, a Pakistani city about two hours from the capital Islamabad.” Matt Rosoff May 2, 2011

41 Twitter Why and How is it used by Decision Makers and Organisation Leaders, And what does the death of Osama Bin Laden have to do with it ?

42 In this context, what do we mean by “decision makers” and “organisation leaders”? Simply, the decision-makers within organisations that are responsible for leadership and management decisions; the CEO, MD, the Leader. Organisation includes: Government (policy and monetary & fiscal decisions) Business (policy, organization, investment, product, market etc) Media (their role in the public sphere as in relationship to government and business organisations) Celebrities and general public are prolific users of Twitter, but are not regarded in this context as decision makers

43 Why would decision-makers and/or their organisations use Twitter? Tim Peters BLOG April’08 “Smart companies use Twitter. Here’s how: to learn about their customers, what they care about” Jennifer Van Grove January 21, 2009 “Smart brands use Twitter in meaningful ways, and most of them use their brand name as a way to make sure customers can find and recognize them. No other medium gets you inside a business or brand quite like Twitter.” What does itself say ? “As a business, you can use Twitter to quickly share information, gather market intelligence and insights, and build relationships with people who care about your company. Often, there is already a conversation about your business happening on Twitter.”

44 How do decision-makers use Twitter? Gartner highlights Four Ways in Which Enterprises are Using Twitter ( Mar’09) and 4 Ways to Use Twitter for Business (, mar’09) Direct – as a marketing or PR channel Indirect – let employees do it … or your PR firm, or friends out there Internal – office and enterprise microblogging, but it’s public ! Inbound Signalling – Twitter as early warning system, listening to what’s being said about you, competitors, market generally. Intel and counterintel

45 Warning signs! Twitter is a public forum, don’t be self serving, Do TRY to be genuine,or the Twittersphere can turn on you. Employees can use Twitter for self promotion, so have a policy on what can and cannot be discussed. There are better, more secure, controllable ways to internally communicate than Twitter. If you are listening, then highly likely so are your competitors ….. to your Twitter conversations (Gartner and readwriteweb) If your are going to Tweet, (“and who isn’t these days”), don’t go into it blindly. Developing a strategy for twitter is more complex than at first glance.

46 Twitter Dos and Don’ts for Business # Using Twitter as a branding tool means making your tweets casual and friendly—yet strategically formulated for marketing ROI. Here's how. BusinessWeek’s Six Things for Businesses to Remember About Tweeting # Do have a plan # Don’t overpromote #Do integrate your twitter efforts with your other marketing initiatives #Don’t get too personal or negative #Do engage and interact #Don’t use corporate rhetoric and jargon

47 What, then, has all this got to do with Osama bin Laden in general, and his death in particular ? #Bin Laden as CEO of “Al Qaeda” generated a lot of Twitter traffic #His death demonastrated the power of Twitter as an early warning communication medium #It also demonstrated how decision-makers interact with Twitter; in this case the informed politicians can control announcements and feed into and interact with the Twittersphere. #The media takes early warning signals from the Twittersphere.

48 How did Osama bin Laden, the decision-maker and organisation leader, engage with Twitter ? # He did use social media, although his facebook sites were eliminated in 2010 ( # While he did not use Twitter, a small number of Al Qaeda “affiliates” do Tweet, and “follow” US soldiers’ Tweets (his intel, their counterintel ?) #He was the subject of much Twitter traffic, particularly around his death, and he is also subject of Twitter Satire. (What impact would this have on brand image? #Not directly used as a marketing and PR channel #Internal use Al Qaeda communicated among itself to unknown capacity #May have kept tabs on the market and reactions of his competitors, but we don’t know

49 What lessons might decision-makers and organisation leaders take from “Twitter and the death of Osama bin Laden” ? # OBL and his organisation seemed awed by the potential of social media, but abused the notion of the public sphere # Hurtful comments and nasty threats in the public sphere to his competitors) that upset the marketplace. (Businessweek) # The Twittersphere did, in part, turn on OBL and his organisation, by way of satire (Gartner and readwriteweb) # Indirect use, on-tweeting by others is uncontrolled and insecure comms (Gartner) # His competitors were listening for his organisational Internal use comms # Failed at Inbound Signalling at the critical time it really mattered. He had no listening mechanisms, no active network of listeners, no re-tweets, no-one able to warn him, on that fateful night.

50 Journalists’ use of Twitter: Tam McKenzie @SameAsTheRiver Citizen Journalists and Twitter: Irina Belsky @irinabelsky Public Relations and Twitter: Gregory Smith “Professional Luddite and Raconteur” Decision-makers and Twitter: Glenn Holdstock “Still deciding about whether to make Twitter a part of his life” Ask us a question, make a comment. Just don’t stay silent.

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