Project #marius and infostorms

(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 4 Feb 2015.)

Update, 28 Feb 2015: I gave #SMWZOOSHITSTORM a wide berth as it would just make me cross, although the CBS team commented at another Socal Media Week CPH event that the story keeps on giving. The event did yield up:

Updates: 2 April 2014: story in Berlingske on the research, plus perspectives of the day from Denmark and RoW. The CPH Post, who had their own Marius fool, reported that the Jobindex spoof was pulled at around noon due to complaints, but it still seems to be there…9 April: the Zoo’s comms guy tells his story…a peer reviewed article on the saga, Marius, the giraffe: a comparative informatics case study of linguistic features of the social media discourse, was presented at the ACM’s CABS 14 conference (abstract)

A team at Copenhagen Business School has taken a look at the use of social media around Copenhagen Zoo’s recent giraffe story:

See also Tableau visualisations and the timeline of events.

Research questions:

  • how did the conversation amplitude evolve?
  • where did negative sentiment originate and how did it evolve/spread?
  • who were the main actors – for some #sna see slides 20-23; Twitter bios showed a lot of vegans, activists etc (slide 19), well organised on #some
  • what types of posts and events instigated the issue online?
  • how did CPH Zoo handle the event on social channels and how did the social media storm affect their presence? – posted both in English and Danish on its Facebook and very successful in terms of check-ins, likes etc, but commentary very negative, mainly English (slide 24-26)
  • how did other organisations deal with the crisis?

Over 80% of the data came from Twitter. Highest buzz rate: 332 posts/minute, with a second short lived spike at 20K tweets/hr re the second Marius. 50% of tweets were retweets – a reflection of sentiment?

Twitter offered a more direct reflection of events, in terms of volume and sentiment, and also demonstrated a more drastic reaction to network prestige factors from activists and celebs. Discourse on Facebook was different –  a more closed environment, with feelings expressed to family and friends and maybe the Zoo.

95% of the global conversation was in English, with Danish detected in only 2,220 posts. Differences in the Danish subset are particularly interesting (slide 11) – Twitter and Facebook only share 50% of the conversation – does mainstream media play a larger role in Danish society? Fewer RTs – #some used more to express oneself than to share information? But sentiment is also more neutral (slide 17), with more negative sentiment on Facebook (apart from that viral photo in support of the Zoo; ?Twitter penetration in Denmark lower, large subset of politicians, media etc).

Radian6 used for analysis, but came up short – pretty hopeless for the Danish data subset, and its automatic sentiment coding was “either super safe or super crap” (slide 16), neutral heavy, often failing to detect negative sentiment. 50 corporate communications students at CBS hand coded some data with rather different results. Much discussion over what is positive or negative in this case. Now starting to analyse YouTube comments.

Was #marius an infostorm? Infostorms, a new book from two researchers in Denmark (one chairman of the Danish Nudging Network), explores whether #some “amplifies irrational social behaviour and can manipulate minds and markets” (see press release).

Denmark’s utilitarian approach towards animals is out of step with the English speaking world in particular. Some rather less robustly scientific articles have been sighted lately, and this is a topic it will be interesting to track in the future. Here’s my collection of notable #marius stories for the record:

An image in support of the Zoo’s Director went viral on my Facebook timeline at least, and an ill advised tweet from actor Pilou Asbæk, one of the hosts for Eurovision 2014 in Copenhagen, went viral on Facebook (traces of both now deleted), but it is to be hoped that organisations representing Denmark are sensitive to the issues:

Copenhagen’s visitor card

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