The Twittersphere, Microblogging & Elections

The focus this week was on the use of Twitter during elections and election coverage by the media in Australia & India. The readings this week were ‘#ausvotes, How Twitter Covered the 2010 Austrlaian Federal Election’ by Axel Bruns & Jean Burgess (2011) & ‘Online Journalism & ElectionREporting In India’ by Saayan Chattopadhyay (2012). Whilst both of the articles used specific elections in order to generate the data for their analysis the main points of the articles were the use of “hashtags”, how and why people used Twitter. So even though I would confess to being a “politcal junkie” as Bruns & Burgess put it I would like to focus more on the use of Twitter itself in regards to media use for interactvity.

First it is important to understand why Twitter has become so important for media outlets and the simple fact is its massive popularity levels, as shown by the following infographics.

Media outlets have used many different techniques to incorporate social media and Twitter into their programs, because as Tony Wang (Twitter UK General Manager) states;

Broadcasters are not the ones to choose whether to have social TV. It happens whether they like it or not… 80% of under-25s are using a second screen to communicate with friends while watching TV, while 72% of them are using Twitter, Facebook and other mobile apps to comment on the shows they watch.

The following video gives a nice rundown of some of the main ways social media has been incorporated by various media outlets in response to these statistics.

The article by Bruns & Burgess (2011) has a particular focus on the use of “hastags” to create “ad-hoc issue publics or communities” around a central theme or idea, this is exactly what media outlets are attempting to create with the incorporation of “hastags” and other social media tools into their programming. These communities are important because they can generate more viewers & they also help to keep the current viewers engaged for the length of the program.

From my own personal experiences with Twitter and the “hashtag” communities I am a supporter of this idea, especially in regards to watching live sport which I feel is a much more exciting & enjoyable experience when you are engaged with other people. I recently experienced this whilst watching the Manchester United vs Everton game where I was Tweeting my opinions & reactions, which then got retweeted and led to conversations with people I had never met, as the game went on. So I for one am happy social media has taken off & hope that media outlets can begin to further develop more detailed and interactive means of using this valuable resource into their programming.

References

Bruns, A & Burgess, J (2011) ‘#ausvotes: How Twitter Covered the 2010 Australian Federal Election’, Communication, Politics & Culture, vol.44, no.2, pp.37-56

Chattopadhyay, S (2012) ‘Online Journalism & Election Reporting in India’, Journalism Practice, vol.6, no.3, pp.337-348

Dredge, S (2012) ‘Twitter UK Boss Says Social TV Happens Whether Broadcasters Like It Or Not’, The Guardian, 30 March, accessed 22/8/2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2012/mar/30/twitter-social-tv-broadcasters

Twitter (2011) ‘The Best of Twitter TV’, accessed 22/8/2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cfzSYYj8qk

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