The re:publica conference in Twitter numbers

Last week, bloggers, digital citizens, net activists and journalists gathered in Berlin for the annual re:publica conference. The event took place for the first time in 2007 as a platform for bloggers from the German speaking countries, but has evolved into a huge conference with 4000 attendees and speakers from other parts of Europe and the world as well. It’s not a risky bet to assume that next year, the re:publica will be even bigger and more international.

As one could imagine, the re:publica createde quite a buzz in the German speaking twittersphere. We set up a Twingly Liveboard before the conference kicked off to be able to visualize the feedback on Twitter. To remind you: Liveboard is a HTML5 based feature that visualizes the buzz about trends on Twitter and works with any state of the art browser.

Twingly Liveboard for #rp12

You find the Liveboard for the re:publica at liveboard.twingly.com/rp12 (since it shows real-time stats, the numbers are still growing even though the conference is already finished).

Here are a few key figures that illustrate how visible the event was in the local twittersphere
Overall number of tweets containing the “rp12” keyword: more than 69.000
Tweets about rp12 during the time of the conference: almost 55.000
Number of different users tweeting about rp12: more than 10.800
Number of unique hashtags in tweets mentioning rp12: more than 6.200
Number of unique links in tweets mentioning rp12: almost 16.000

Top 5 Twitter users mentioned in tweets with “rp12” hashtag
@republica
@RegSprecher
@saschalobo
@republive
@spreeblick

Top 5 Twitter users with most tweets about rp12
@republica
@republive
@forbiddenfeed
@A_Christofori
@bicyclist

Top 5 most used hashtags
#rp12
#Action
#tassebier
#stage1
#stage2

Overall, the first conference day on Wednesday led to the highest number of tweets, and the last conference day on Friday to the lowest.

Twingly Live goes Webciety – again!

This week, the digital industry’s biggest, most international event, CeBIT, is taking place in the German city of Hannover. One part of the annual happening combining exhibition, conferences, keynotes, corporate events and lounges is the Webciety, a special platform for the Internet Business.

And the cool thing is: The Webciety team uses our Twingly Live tool on their live streaming page to show reactions from Twitter in real time. If you click on this link you are being forwarded to the stream, and if you look at the right you see the Twingly Live box with the the real time stream of tweets containing the #webciety hashtag (there is also a second tab highlighting tweets that received the most reactions).

Since #webciety is a pretty popular hashtag on Twitter right now, some spammers thought it was a good idea to hijack it, hence the Live widget showed their tweets as well. Fortunately, Twingly Live offers tools to moderate the real time Twitter stream – something you can’t do with Twitters own widget solution.

After users have created a Twingly Live stream for a specific keyword or hashtag, they can access the admin area where they see all incoming tweets that will be shown. For each and every tweet there is the option to either remove the tweet or to block the specific user permanently. So if you create a Twingly Live stream and want to get rid of some tweets or even block spammy users, you can do that easily!

In the case of #webciety – which has been using Twingly Live already in 2010 – we also created some custom-made filters to make sure that no spam will appear in the Live feed.

Whether these additional measurements are necessary is something that we decide on a case by case basis, and usually it’s only needed for some really huge events which get a lot of media attention. In most cases though, users are happy with the moderation features included in the admin area.

In this post we introduced you to 3 additional features of Twingly Live that you might find useful. Go, check it out and create you own Stream on http://live.twingly.com. And in case you are in charge of an event and need support, we are looking forward to hear from you.

“Oft ist die Twitter-Tatort-Gemeinde zwiegespalten”

Click here for the English version!

Der Tatort ist die in der deutschen Twittersphäre am meisten und intensivsten diskutierte Fernsehsendung. Stefanie Aßmann und Nicole Greiner haben vor einiger Zeit in einem Blog damit begonnen, die Twitter-Resonanz auf einzelne Episoden auszuwerten und zu analysieren. Im Interview erzählt Stefanie, wie es dazu kam, was twitternde Tatort-Fans bewegt und was als nächstes kommen könnte.

Wer bist du wieso bewegt dich das Thema Social-Media-Monitoring?
Meine Name ist Stefanie Aßmann, bei Twitter @miss_assmann. Ich arbeite bei VICO Research & Consulting als Consultant und beschäftige mich dort beruflich mit dem Thema Monitoring und Social Media. Vor zwei Jahren habe ich mich im Rahmen meiner Masterarbeit das erste Mal mit Social Media Monitoring auseinander gesetzt. Damals gab es nur wenig Literatur zum Thema. Für mich war das ein Grund, dies zu ändern und das Blog zum Thema ins Leben zu rufen. Außerdem finde ich es sehr spannend, wie die Nutzer online über Produkte und Marken diskutieren. Analysen zur Social Media Kommunikation ergeben immer sehr interessante Erkenntnisse.

Du befasst dich seit einiger Zeit damit, die Twitter-Reaktionen zum Tatort zu analysieren. Wie kam es dazu?
Wir haben auf der Arbeit montags über den Tatort gesprochen und uns darüber unterhalten, wie viele Leute doch auf Twitter darüber diskutieren. Da kam uns die Idee, das es lustig wäre, den Tatort anhand von Tweets nachzuerzählen. Mit Nicole habe ich die Idee einige Zeit später wieder aufgegriffen. Leider schaffen wir es zeitlich nur selten, den Tatort zu analysieren.

Wieso sorgt gerade der Tatort für ein derartig großes Echo bei Twitter?
Das ist eine gute Frage und ein gutes Thema für eine Analyse. In meinem Freundeskreis schauen sehr viele Leute sonntags Tatort. Da viele Freunde der Social-Media-Welt beim Fernsehen das Smartphone nicht aus der Hand legen können, haben sie wohl angefangen, den Tatort zu kommentieren. Das Ganze hat sich irgendwann verselbstständigt. In meiner Timeline ist mir der Tatort jedenfalls als erstes TV Format aufgefallen.

Welche Tools und Verfahren verwendest du für deine Analyse?
Angefangen haben wir mit der Twitter-Suche. Zwischendurch habe ich auch das Tool von VICO eingesetzt, um eine Tag Cloud zu erstellen. Anja von Twingly war nun so nett und hat mir ein Liveboard zum Tatort eingerichtet. Damit erhält man einen guten Überblick, wie viele User zu welchen Schlagworten zum Tatort twittern. Um die Tweets zu sammeln, nutzen wir aktuell die Twittersuche und Live von Twingly. Ideen für weitere Analysen habe ich genug. Mir fehlt nur die Zeit für die Umsetzung.

Welche Folge war bisher die mit den insgesamt positivsten Twitter-Kritiken und welche die mit den negativsten? 
Da wir nicht jeden Tatort analysieren, kann ich das gar nicht so genau sagen. Oft ist die Twitter-Tatort-Gemeinde zwiegespalten. Gerade der Tatort von Justus von Dohnanyi hat für viel Gesprächsstoff bei Twitter gesorgt. Entweder wurde der Tatort als Meisterstück gelobt, oder er wurde verrissen. Prinzipiell kann man auch sagen, dass bei manchen Tatorten der eigentlich Inhalt bei Twitter gar keine Rolle spielt. Manchmal sind gewisse Details im Tatort spannender als die Handlung selbst. Gerade wenn bestimmte Details im Film nicht logisch sind, wird gerne gemeckert.

Glaubst du, der Tatort wird immer eher eine Ausnahme bleiben, was das Social-Web-Engagement der Nutzer angeht? Oder werden künftig viele weitere Sendungen ähnlich viel Resonanz in den Social-Media-Kanälen erhalten?
Der Tatort war die erste Sendung mit so viel Resonanz bei Twitter. Mittlerweile wird alles mögliche – bespielsweise “Bauer sucht Frau” oder “The Voice of Germany” – bei Twitter diskutiert. In meinen Augen birgt Twitter bei der Analyse von TV-Formaten noch sehr viel Potential. Anbieter wie Couchfunk haben schon erkannt, dass man das klassische Fernsehen mit der Internetnutzung verknüpfen sollte.

Denkst du darüber nach, deine Analysen auf andere Sendungen auszuweiten?
Ja, da denke ich schon länger drüber nach. Allerdings habe ich noch kein Format gefunden, dass mich inhaltlich auch so interessiert. Mich würden hier generell amerikanische Serien reizen. Dort werden die verschiedenen Social-Media-Kanäle bereits jetzt schon verstärkt von den Sendern eingesetzt.

“Often, the actual plot isn’t what engages users in the online discussion”

Hier könnt ihr das Interview auf Deutsch lesen.

The German crime drama series Tatort (German for “crime scene”) is the most discussed TV show among Twitter users in Germany. A while ago Stefanie Assmann and Nicole Greiner started to analyse the Twitter feedback on a couple of episodes. In our interview, Stefanie explains how that happened, what it is that gets the tweeting audience excited as well as what the next step could look like.

Tell us a bit about you.
My name is Stefanie Assmann, @miss_assmann on Twitter. I’m working as a consultant at Vico Research, a German full-service agency for social media, dealing mainly with monitoring and social media. About two years ago I learned about social media monitoring for the first time while writing my Master thesis. Back then there wasn’t too much literature on that topic, which made me eventually launch a blog about it. It’s fascinating to see how users discuss brands and products. Analysing their comments always leads to interesting insights.

You have started to look closer at what Twitter users say about Tatort episodes and to publish the results on your blog. Why?
On Mondays at the office we usually discuss the latest episode of Tatort (which is always broadcasted on Sunday evenings), and we found it impressive how many people were doing the same on Twitter during the show. Nicole and I thought it might be fun to use those tweets by people watching Tatort to re-tell the story of the episode. Eventually, that led to a couple of blog posts where we evaluated the Tatort-buzz on Twitter. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to do that regularly.

Why is Tatort the single regular TV show in Germany getting that much attention on Twitter?
Good question and food for another analysis. Many of my friends usually watch Tatort on Sunday evenings. It’s quite a popular series. And as it is the case for many social media enthusiasts, they can’t stop using their smartphone, even while doing something else like watching TV. So they started to tweet about Tatort. Now that has become some kind of “tradition” on Twitter. I remember that Tatort was the first TV show that appeared in my Twitter timeline.

Which tools do you use for your analysis?
We started with the Twitter search, and we also used a tool from VICO, my employer, to create a tag cloud. Recently Twingly was so kind to provide us with a Liveboard that helps to get a quick overview about the amount and type of Tatort tweets.

Are there any typical patterns or reactions that you observe?
Since we don’t cover each Tatort episode it’s a bit hard to say. But my impression is that usually the feedback is rather varied, with both positive and negative comments. So some people love an episode while others hate it. Often, the actual plot isn’t what engages users in the online discussion. Instead it’s specific details that make people tweet. If the audience perceives a detail as unrealistic or absurd, that would usually lead to a lot of complaining on Twitter.

You think Tatort will be an exception regarding its Twitter buzz, or will other German TV shows become equally popular on Twitter?
Tatort was definitely the first show in Germany to create this kind of engagement among Twitter users. But nowadays there are other TV shows as well that get lots of tweets. I think there is a lot of potential in “social tv”, and specific web services are popping up to build on that and to connect traditional TV with the web.

Do you plan to extend your analysis to other shows?
I would love to, but I have yet to find a show which excites me enough to invest the time. A US show would be fun, since there the stations themselves already actively use social media.

3 cool features of Twingly Live

At Twingly we always have been big fans of the real time web. Thus, as soon as we realized that Twitter would become a real hit, we decided to develop a tool that shows a real time stream of tweets containing any hashtag or keyword. We called it Twingly Live and launched it in the end of 2009.

Twingly Live doesn’t only come handy when trying to understand the volume of tweets about a specific topic. It’s also a good way to introduce others to a specific meme or hot trend on Twitter.

Today we want to show you three cool features of Twingly Live that you maybe haven’t paid attention to yet:

Embed a Twingly Live widget into your blog or website

You can embed any Twingly Live stream into your blog or website, for instance to illustrate how popular something you have blogged about is on Twitter. Simply go to http://live.twingly.com, choose the Stream you want to embed (e.g. a stream you have just created; use ctrl + f to search the list) and click on the “embed” link in the right column.

In the following window you find some options to customize the widget. After you are done, copy the code shown and paste it into your website.

Embed the Twingly Live widget into your wesite

See the most popular tweets for a Twingly Live stream

For an increasing number of Twingly Live streams we provide a toplist tab called “Top 20”, which lists the most popular tweets for that specific keyword within a given time period (last half hour, last 2 hours, last 24 hours, last week).

The Twingly Live streams which don’t have the toplist link simply don’t get enough tweets.

Twingly Live toplist

Embed a toplist widget

This is a little hiden feature that for now only those of you get to know who read the Twingly blog : ) In the same way as you can embed a Twingly Live stream you also can embed a toplist.

For that, find the desired keyword in the list on http://live.twingly.com, click on the “embed” link in the right column. Now when you see the embed code, copy it and paste it into your website. After that is done, remove the link from the code (which starts with http://static.twingly….) and enter the following: http://live.twingly.com/toplist/** Instead of **, add the name of the stream (which you see when opening the stream in your browser).

And if you are totally new to Twingly Live, simply create your own stream to try it: http://live.twingly.com (then click “Create Twingly Live” and follow the instructions)

We love Data and we attend #NEXT11 in Berlin!

Anton and I will have the great honour to be part of a group of almost 80 official bloggers from all over Europe and we will be helping covering NEXT Conference with blog posts and tweets.

We already started our personal blogging, Anton’s posts you find here and mine here. And we do not mind you following our updates on Twitter at all….

We look forward to a great program and listening to a whole bunch of awesome speakers. Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio, creators of Angry Birds, Mike Butcher from Techcrunch Europe, Amanda Rose of Twestival, David Rowan from Wired UK and Markus “Videopunk” Hündgen from Blinkenlichten and one of the organisers of VideoCamp only being a few of the many highlights.

Last but certainly not least it will be exciting to follow who wins the Elevator Pitch! The Jury already chose the 12 finalists, and I already chose my 3 favourites , and I think Anton cannot decide really… 😉 . Am excited to see how they all will be doing!

Since it is two Twinglians taking part in the blog- and tweet-buzz  around NEXT, we of course didn’t miss setting up a Liveboard  already some time ago.

Check it out on your iPad, Safari, Chrome or (good news!) now even on IE9+ and FF4.0+ !

Already over 2000 tweets! Let’s see if we get #next11 as trending topic onto Twitter during next Tuesday and Wednesday – would be nice!

By the way should you be one of the people who decide last minute to attend the conference there are still a few tickets available – with 30% discount!

Now you know where to find us – and we’d love to meet you there!

Why using Twitter could help your Investor Relations

For companies there seem to be a trillion reasons why they should start using and paying attention to Social Media. The use cases range from creating loyal customers to getting feedback about products and services, from offering an additional channel for customer service to pushing out marketing messages, from informing existing and potential clients/consumers about products and events to staying updated about what competitors are doing. Give yourself a few minutes and you probably will come up with dozens of more reasons.

But there is one benefit of Social Media that is remarkebly absent from all the top lists you find online about why companies should start to use Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube and so on: To improve investor relations (IR) and to disseminate firm-initiated disclosures and news. By using Social Media channels, especially smaller and medium-sized companies can reach out to existing  and potential Investors and keep them informed.

On IR Web Report, a web site specialized in publishing research and news about online investor relations practices, we found an interesting interview with Hal White, assistant professor of accounting at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Together with a two other researchers from the same school Hal has created an academic paper trying to answer the question whether companies now – while being able to use direct-access information technology – can act as their own information intermediaries.

One of their key findings is that Twitter appears to be an effective way for firms to communicate with investors and to disseminate information to the stock market. And this is especially true for those firms which are too small, insignificant or simply too young to catch the mainstream and industry media’s attention. Funny enough these are the companies that usually have the biggest need to establish investor relations (e.g. technology startups looking for funding).

For people who are enthusiastic about the new ways of communication enabled by the digital revolution – like us at Twingly and probably most of you, our dear readers – this doesn’t come as a big surprise. But as IR Web Report author Dominic Jones states, for many people in the IR community the common believe is rather that Social Media is a waste of time.

In the extensive interview, the researcher Hal White gives some deeper insights into the study the report is based on. The three professors took a sample of technology firms (due to their qualification as early adopters), analyzed their tweeting patterns and looked at whether Twitter messages, especially those based around news-events and press releases, had a significant impact on the information environment of the company. Usually, it had. And usually, tweeting was clearly beneficial for the less visible companies but not so much for the more visible companies that are already getting attention (often with the help of newswires).

Hal White also gives en explanation of why it is mainly Twitter that has been embraced by IR departments. He assumes that this is because of Twitter’s short messaging style, which makes it easy to spread a news even to people on their mobile phones, and to do so in real time. It’s the best way to reach out to investors who often are on the go and who need to be as efficient as possible in their news and information management. The researchers also looked at blogs but found that there was a lot of opinion and two-way-communication rather than a strong focus on distribution of press releases and news (which, as boring as it sounds, is what investors need, at least in the initial stage).

Assuming that the report is right (which we don’t have any doubts on judging from our own experience with using Twitter for Twingly-related news), the best thing you as a small or mid-sized company can do is start using Twitter for publishing your corporate news, following venture capitalists, business angels and other seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, and of course the financial press. Some will follow you back. Let’s see if it will help you to create and improve your investor relations (and eventually get funded).

If you haven’t really used Twitter yet, here, here and here are a few articles you should read before getting started.

/Martin Weigert

(Illustration: stock.xchng)

Do you think before you tweet?

When you publish your ordinary 140 character messages on Twitter, it’s easy to forget who your total audience is. No, not only your followers on Twitter and those users who might have subscribed to your stream via RSS. In fact, it’s everyone on the Internet. Almost 2 billion people, who have access to your daily Twitter updates, if you didn’t set your account to private (which hardly anybody does on Twitter).

That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? I hear you saying “Well, that’s the same for any public web page and blog”. Correct. But the difference is that it takes much longer and more effort to publish content on regular websites/blogs, and since you are not limited to those 140 characters, you write longer texts, and you have more time to think through what you have written before you press publish.

From my personal Twitter experience I can say that this is totally different on Twitter. Twitter is the leading tool of the real time web, and as such a communication channel where everything is about speed. Twitter is the place where news break first, and as we explained last week, the way Twitter works even helps spreading less important information to a lot of people within a very short amount of time.

But the nature of Twitter with quick messages that are being tweeted and retweeted in (near) real time comes at a price: quality and trustworthiness. While there are tweets that give the impression of being well thought through – especially of users who focus on humorous or ironic Twitter updates – the majority of tweets and retweets have been put together in a few seconds.

So because of that, and because everyone on the Internet can see your tweets, it really makes sense to always think twice before pushing something to Twitter – or at least to think once.

I would guess that every regular Twitter user knows the uncomfortable feeling of having sent a tweet that she/he regretted afterwards.

Since there is no way to edit a tweet, the only thing you can do is to delete it. Some Twitter clients offer a useful option to do that, but I also have used apps that didn’t. Instead, I had to rush to Twitter’s website, log-in to my account (when you are in a hurry, you might mistype your password twice before you succeed in loging in), and then delete the tweet. With a bit of luck, I was fast enough so that nobody of my Twitter followers did see my weird/stupid/incorrect tweet. Sometimes, I wasn’t.

Recently, Twitter has launched the new User Streams API and is now step by step rolling out access to it. If the API is enabled for your Twitter client, all the tweets are appearing in real ‘real time’. Before, it could take 30 seconds or longer for your personal stream to update with new tweets. It was rather a bulk updating process than a real time updating.

What that means is that it will soon become completely impossible to hide a tweet from your followers by deleting it. Because when everyone has access to the new API, your followers will see your tweet in the very second you sent it.

That means that thinking before twittering will be even more important in the future than it has been so far.

Because of this, I personally try to stick to some ground rules when sending a tweet. It doesn’t always work, sometimes the temptation of being first out with a specific information/news is just too big. Still, I think it is good to have some criteria in the back of your head while using Twitter. It could help you to avoid embarrassing situations.

These are my suggestions. Feel free to add a comment with your input:

  • Is there a link I can attach to my tweet to show the source of my information?
  • Does the information sound reasonable and realistic? What does my intuition say?
  • Do I offend people with the tweet (more than necessary)?
  • Have I been twittering about the same thing too many times?
  • Is the spelling/grammar correct?
  • Does this tweet fit together with my opinion in earlier tweets/blog articles, or do I contradict myself?
  • Could the information in my tweet be something that everyone already knows?
  • If I’m about to retweet somebody else, do I know this person (from Twitter)? How much do I know about her/his credibility?
  • Should I add a personal comment to my retweet in order to explain to my followers why I thought this information/link was valuable?

Of course the process of thinking through these points is something that happens within the fraction of a second, in best multitasking tradition. And as I said – it’s not always working, we are all humans and act like them. Nevertheless it has helped me to establish a basic quality assurance for my tweets. If I would stand in front of almost two billion people, I probably would be very careful with what I’m saying. So I think it can’t be too wrong if Twitter user’s think a second before they tweet.

/Martin Weigert

(Photo: stock.xchng)

How much does the Social Web care about Traditional Media Online?

That could be a question worth investigating, we thought. Not that we are the first ones to do so, but we decided to dig into that by using our new kid on the block, Channels.

As you know, Channels are now in open beta and free to play with. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then put this onto your list of fun tasks for your lunch breaks to come.

Anyway, we also had a play with it. We set up a news channel for each of a selected country, mainly based on the RSS of the biggest national newspapers. Then we took a look at which articles ended up in “top stories” of each Channel.

Which article or item gets listed as “top story” in a Channel depends on
– how many blog entries link to them
– how many mentions in microblogs like Twitter
– how old they are (publishing date)
– how many “likes” they get from Channel users
– how many comments they get from Channel users

Since Channels is quite new, there are clearly not many “likes” or comments from users yet. Which is nice for this little analysis right now. We will however launch more features quite soon, which will make Channels quite a powerful tool, and a very flexible one to use, too. So bear with us, please.

Now, these are our “candidates”:
UK Germany France Netherlands Spain Portugal Poland Sweden Norway and Italy.

What we wanted to see, was how blogs and tweets respond to news articles, thus pushing news into “top stories” and that way making them the headlines of the day in the social media sphere.

Comparing all these, there are quite some striking scenarios to look at. The strongest Channels in terms of linking blogs and tweets are without a doubt UK and Sweden. Taking a closer look at both, one notices that all top stories on the Swedish Channel usually have far more blog posts referring to them than tweets! In Norway it looks largely the same – almost all top stories get discussed more on blogs than on Twitter.

In the UK and Germany, news, it seems are increasingly more discussed on Twitter rather than on blogs. The majority of top stories in these Channels get partly a massive amount of tweets, but only a few blog posts refer to them.

That raises the question – is there a stronger blogging culture in Scandinavia? Here at the moment represented by Norway and Sweden? Do 14 million people (almost 5 million in Norway, about 9 million in Sweden) have more bloggers or better saying more active bloggers that link to news sites than a nation with over 60 million people like the UK? Or is it the “Twingly Effect” on our home grounds Sweden and Norway, as we sometimes secretly call it? In both countries almost all major newspapers show blog posts that link to them, most of them using  our Blogstream solution, or, like Aftonbladet, their own solution.

It could also be simply a difference in culture. It is much easier and faster to share opinions via tweets in fast paced countries like i. e. UK and Germany, rather than typing up a blog post. From my own experience I know that life here in Sweden is much calmer, means one has the peace of mind to write up some more complex thoughts that need more than 140 characters. If you ask me, I think it is a good mixture of both.

What about the rest?

The Dutch and Spanish are tweeting and blogging quite a bit, too, articles being more quoted in tweets than blogged about. Same scenario with the Portuguese and French, just with a slightly lower intensity. In Italy and Poland we see  few to no links, regardless whether they come from tweets or from blog posts. This scenario corresponds pretty much to what we know from friends in these two countries. Italy being more of a TV-country due to known reasons (watch i.e. Videocracy if you haven’t done so yet), and in Poland it seems the development simply isn’t that far yet. However, the Polish social media development will be really interesting to follow over the next year or two.

According to Channels, these newspapers are the celebrities in terms of who gets quoted most on blogs and on Twitter:

UK: The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph
Germany: Der Spiegel and Focus
France:
Well mixed scenario with Le Monde Le Figaro Le Point and 20minutes leading
Spain: Another good mix with El Mundo and El País leading
Portugal:
Publíco (a customer of ours for Blogstream, we’d like to point out proudly)
Netherlands:
De Telegraaf (another news site with Blogstream) and NRC Handelsblad
Norway: Verdens Gang (uses Blogstream)
Sweden: Dagens Nyheter Expressen (both with Blogstream) and Aftonbladet (running their own solution resembling Blogstream) lead.

It could be interesting to see if the described scenarios would shift in any direction, if some newspapers online would start using a trackback solution, start showing and promoting  links from blogs linking to them. Could there be another increase of links from blogs for sites like Guardian or Spiegel? Or could other, even smaller newspapers become equally popular?

Would you like to share any thoughts or experiences on this? Go ahead. Especially when you think, we may have missed something important, be it a source in one of the Channels or anything else. On that note, Times.co.uk we could unfortunately not take into account because of their pay-wall.

//Anja Rauch

How the Real Time Web made a Flower Pot become a Web Celebrity

Sometimes you just need to see the real time web in action to understand its dynamics and power. This was a thought I had when I last week witnessed the sudden rise of a meme in the German Twitter-sphere. Personally I have never seen something similar before in the German speaking microblogging world, at least not with this intensity.

Everything started with an inconspicuous flower pot that belonged to an elder care home in the German city of Münster. One week ago the pot was destroyed by an unknown person. For some reason the “story” made it onto the website of the local newspaper Münstersche Zeitung. Katharina Hövels, the woman who wrote the article, started working at the newspaper a week before and was unexperienced, the paper later explained in a follow-up piece.

At 11:04 pm on Wednesday, Ralf Heimann was apparently the first person on Twitter to publish the link to the article. His tweet was retweeted 36 times, which doesn’t include manual retweets, and it was his tweet that about 12 hours later, on Thursday around lunch, led to the Twitter meme carrying the hashtag #blumenkübel, which is German for flower pot.

I think I noticed the first #blumenkübel tweets at around 12 am, and it was like out of the blue that suddenly my complete Twitter stream was filled with this hashtag. What happened was that some people that did read the original article took the blumenkübel story and adapted it to other recent news events, while some others simply joked about flower pots in general or the fact that the incident was actually reported about.

The more people participated, the more who didn’t read the original article either started to joined or asked what the #blumenkübel thing was all about, which consequently led to a number of blog posts explaining what happened, both in German and even in English. That again helped to increase the number of #blumenkübel mentions.

Using our Blog Search engine we found almost 200 blog posts writing about the topicAccording to the German blog and Twitter aggregator Rivva, 439 people retweeted the link to the original article. That is pretty substantial for Germany which only has about 270.000 active Twitter users according to this analysis. And let’s not forget that the actual story probably didn’t concern any of them.

At Twingly we quickly set up a Twingly Live Channel which at the peak of the #blumenkübel wave showed new tweets every second. It was impressive to watch!

According to the Twitter monitoring service Trendistic, the flower pot meme reached its peak around 2 pm on Thursday. After that the number of tweets containing the hashtag fell but rose again around 5 pm. If you follow Social Web topics you probably can guess why: After a few hours of #blumenkübel-mania, German mainstream media got curious and started to publish reports about how a flower pot became a star on Twitter, and that created new attention for the already diminishing meme. During that time, fake screenshots of CNN covering the broken flower pot and a YouTube video making fun of the flower pot’s fate had already hit Twitter.

The #blumenkübel hashtag actually made it into Twitter’s trending topics for a whole 5 hours, reaching position 4 at best, and increasing awareness of the flower pot tragedy on the other side of the Atlantic. Liz Pullen from What The Trend informed me on Friday that out of 492 trending topics during the past 7 days, #blumenkübel was the 30th most popular, which is remarkable considering the nonsense behind it and the small German twittersphere.

While Twitter was definitely the core of this meme, a Facebook page that was set up on early Thursday afternoon praising the flower pot grew to more than 2000 members on that day, and got even more attention after the national TV station Pro7 picked up the story on Friday evening (30 hours after the meme started). Today, the page has almost 10.000 members, which is significantly more than the number of tweets that was published with the #blumenkübel hashtag.

According to Twitter statistic apps such as What The Hashtag, Dwitter and twitter-trends.de, the hashtag was mentioned somewhere between 3000 and 6000 times from Thursday to Friday around lunch.

So, let’s draw a few conclusions: Twitter and the dynamics of the real time web allow a destroyed flower pot to become a celebrity in no time. It’s hard to explain the phenomenon if you haven’t been directly involved. It’s simply a lot of fun to see a meme grow, to be part of it and to help spread it. It’s an expression of the real time web’s (and the people’s) power. Just imagine how quick really important information could travel on the web if a stupid joke can.

It’s also obvious that Twitter is much faster than Facebook when it comes to viral distribution of information. One reason for that is definitely the more open environment at Twitter, even though Facebook is trying to compete with that. But that does not mean that Facebook does not have a purpose during the rise of an Internet meme. While Twitter is the core of the real time process, people afterwards go to Facebook to look for a group or page to join.

At least in the case of #blumenkübel, Twitter and Facebook didn’t compete but rather completed each other.

/Martin Weigert