Posts Tagged ‘middle east’

The Hashtag Conflict

353-twitisralestineAs global conflicts take centre stage in the world, it tends to also take centre stage in the digital world, primarily in social media. 

It’s widely known that social media contributed to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall St. along with other crucial events that have occurred in the past 5 years. Now, it is contributing on a much grander scale.

Social media sways public opinion and creates a direct pipeline to the conflict. Viewpoints from those experiencing the conflict firsthand along with military and political personnel can all be accessed 24 hours a day.

One of the current conflicts that is being waged is happening in the Middle East, more specifically in Gaza. A subsection of this war has been waged in social media through such hashtags as #IsraelUnderFire and #GazaUnderAttack.

Social media is also  being used to wage another war, where the ammunition and infantry is information. 

This is not to say that any side is correct, but in these modern times of communication social media is both an ally and an enemy, depending on what side you stand on.

Consider this, the hastag #GazaUnderAttack has been used over 4 million times since July 22nd, 2014. That’s a lot of activity in a relatively short period of time.

The power and reach of social media is unequal and any conflict is now being viewed through the millions of lens that now have a digital soapbox.

As digital marketers, you most likely want to sit on the sidelines for conversations of this nature. It’s also vital to understand that it’ll be slightly more difficult to garner attention when topics like this own the medium.

As every day passes, social media becomes more and more intriguing because of its capabilities. It’s hard to argue that it’ll only become more engulfed in global issues going forward. 

The real question and the one that will be studied is how the digital battle for public opinion affects conflict in the long run.

Tweets and the Middle East

A little over a week ago the constant conflict that has been happening in Gaza reached new hights with both sides going on what they call “defensive attacks.” While this area of the word is, unfortunately, no stranger to fighting, there was something different this time. Not only was the battle being fought by militants and soldiers, but it was also playing out online as for the first time ever an army was live tweeting it’s battle. Israel’s army, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), was actually live tweeting the conflict and what they were doing. This unprecedented social media move had stirred quite a bit of controversy as no one had ever seen, or even thought, an army would live tweet their tactics as a conflict played out.

This also got a lot of people talking about what was going on through social channels. I thought that it would be interesting to look at how some of this played out in terms of social media data. With no commentary on the matter from myself, I decided to look for chatter in social media about Gaza as a lot of the talk was being tied together through the use of a #Gaza hashtag.

I looked up talk of “Gaza” from the day the battle started on November 13th up to yesterday when both sides agreed to a ceasefire. From November 13 to the 21st I found Gaza being mentioned through social channels over 6.2 million times. There was 90,875 blog posts, 203,857 online news articles, 148,664 forum postings and 5,852,672 tweets.

Since most of the activity was happening on Twitter, I dug a little bit deeper into what was happening there. Here I found that an average of 27,096 tweets about Gaza were being sent every hour over the course of the conflict. The hight of talk peaked on November 18th.

In the chart above we can also see a percentage breakdown of countries that were tweeting about Gaza. Below though, I pulled up a heat map of where these tweets were coming from and we can see that people all over the globe had something to say regarding what was happening in Gaza.

Something else interesting that I noticed when digging into this Twitter data was that a lot of the chatter about Gaza was actually people sharing information from other sources. I found that 62% of all the tweets I found about Gaza were actually retweets. That means that people were seeing information about the conflict coming from other sources and then RTing and passing that information on to their networks. 34% of the tweets found were regular tweets, meaning people that were saying something of their own accord about the conflict. The final 4% of tweets were @ reply messages, meaning that only 4% were people actually having direct conversations with one another about what was going on.

Lastly, I pulled up a word cloud and a buzzgraph to take a look at the conversation across all the social channels combined. It was interesting that in the words that came up in both of these I found it interesting that most of the words were more descriptive of what was happening and not personal feelings stemming from either side of the conflict. But at the same time, I suppose that supports the fact that most tweets were people RTing information about what was happening in the Gaza Strip as opposed to getting into heated debates about which side they sided with.

Social Media Lessons are Everywhere

There are daily lessons for all brands and marketers to learn from  the world of social media.

Of course, these lessons are  good and bad. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you and those you help with marketing and communications.

There are even vital lessons with recent events in the Middle East where social media has once again played a key role much like it did during the Arab Spring.

Israel was live blogging the recent attacks, adding a perspective that is far more interesting and intimate. The fact that the reporting has shifted from journalists to active participants really makes this a signifiant development.

This might be where you should take note. Empowering people with internal knowledge definitely has more lasting power.

Real-time updates. Personal opinions. Stories unravelling and publishing right before our eyes. Now from the perspective of the first person. This is where an organization can really open itself up and gain a lot.

Another lesson might be that it is possible to go too far. Live blogging these kinds of events raises the question of where should we draw the line. There is always a line that you should be aware of.

As marketers and brands, we aren’t dealing with matters with such global implications but it’s always important to be mindful that when it comes to storytelling online and publishing, you have to keep the brand first and never reveal things that could be misconstrued.



Egyptian Crisis: The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted

The recent political and civil unrest in the Middle East has captured the world’s attention.

It has been fascinating and alarming to watch the battle between the Egyptian government and social media users looking to offer first-hand accounts of what’s happening. This battle was highlighted by the government’s decision to shut down Internet access. In a flash, Egypt disappeared from the global digital map, although there are signs it’s flickering back to life.

Given how social media is being increasing leveraged as a real-time reporting tool, we wanted to look at how many people are using Twitter in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen – places in which there is active political protest.

We analyzed 52 million Twitter users, and discovered that only 14,642, or 0.027%, identified their location as Egypt, Yemen or Tunisia. Of these people, 88.1% were from Egypt, 9.5% from Tunisia and 2.13% from Yemen.

It is important to note this number probably doesn’t reflect the number of Twitter users since many users in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen likely do not provide their location information to protect their identities.

As well, the number of Twitter users could be skewed going forward if people around the world decide to support what’s happening by changing their location information to Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, or a city in one of these countries. This is what happened last year during the political unrest in Iran in which many people updated their Twitter location to Iran or Tehran.

The graphic bellow shows a summary of the 14,642 Twitter users in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

We also used Sysomos MAP to look at the tweets that included the words Egypt, Yemen or Tunisia. In total, there were 1.3 million tweets from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30, compared with 122,319 from Jan. 16 to 23.

We also created a BuzzGraph of the leading keywords. At the core is “Jan25″, which was the hashtag commonly used after the protests in Egypt started on January 25.

Twitter statistics on Egypt's crisis

Average number of followers: 138.3
Average number of friends: 143.8
Average posts/day: 3.24

Here’s a list of Egyptian Twitter users with the most followers:

While there are few Twitter users residing in Egypt, people around the world are using it to disseminate real-time information. The CNBC video discusses the issue, how a small focus group of 20-30 users inside Egypt are tweeting important information and how the rest of the world is using Twitter.