A Little Birdie Told Me


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What the H1N1 Outbreak Taught Us About Twitter

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  • Open: Who in here has bought a car in the past year? How did you make the decision to buy? Were you conflicted beforehand? How about afterwards? How did you feel?That’s exactly what we’ll be talking today? The decision to buy – or implement the use of – something new.
  • Bowen – one of two Arkansas law schools. It is located in the capital city, focused on teaching professionalism, public service, and access to justice to our 500 students. Prior to this position managing all the communication elements for the college, I was a public relations coordinator for UALR. Serves 13000 students.
  • This research project came down completely to a right place, right time thing. After a graduate program heavy with interpersonal communication theory and concepts, which can be used in our work, I was hungry for a course that allowed me to use elements of my everyday work. Diffusion of innovation (change management communication) gave me that. I knew I had to use this theory in my research, and I was personally involved in our campus’ response to communication about the H1N1 outbreak.
  • Started out with 3.4 MG of Tweets (almost 1200 pages of content – 140 characters at a timeApril 25 = WHO met to discuss epidemic and possible treatments and vaccinationsSept. 4 = Number of deaths around globe ramped upOct. 24 = Obama declared national state of emergency to deal with outbreakFollowed survey with phone interviews with volunteers to glean even more information about vaccination behaviors
  • Health information - Symptom identification, Preventative measures, VaccinationMisinformation and disinformation - Symptom misidentification, Preventative measure confusion, Vaccination misinformationUncertainty reduction – Deaths, Prevention of spread, Safety and availability of vaccines
  • Majority of users pass along information 1-3 times per day, however, some tweet 10 or more times per day and pass along information that much tooImportant to myself and followers, useful to me, “something of interest that comes from someone who I know who isn’t in my circle of followers”CONNECTIVE TISSUE in communityDon’t verify information they see on Twitter, they trust those they followTwitter is one of a set of tools they use to make decisions – this was disheartening to me, but revealing, Users glean information from a variety of places – family, friends, experts. Twitter cannot be the only way we share important information.COMMON, IMPORTANT, VALUABLE information“I feel that the people I follow on tweeter are credible resources of information - as they are professional folks whose reputations are tied to what they say in this forum”
  • A Little Birdie Told Me

    1. 1. A Little Birdie Told Me<br />What the H1N1 Outbreak Taught <br />Us About Using Twitter<br />Tonya Oaks Smith<br />13 June 2011<br />
    2. 2. Let’s get it started… and get the worm<br />Who am I and why do you care?<br />Who are you? I do care <br />What are we talking about today?<br />
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    4. 4. @marleysmom @ a glance<br />Director of Communications at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law<br />Co-chair for #hewebAR<br />Co-chair of the HighEdWeb regional support committee<br />Earned master’s degree in applied communication studies in 2010<br />About.me/marleysmom<br />
    5. 5. Who are you?<br />
    6. 6. On the agenda today<br />Background<br />Theory<br />Research<br />Results<br />Application<br />
    7. 7. The background<br />Why Twitter?<br />Presence is more and more prevalent – use in Iran, Hudson River crash, H1N1<br />65 MM Tweets per day from millions of users<br />Why H1N1?<br />Health catastrophe that was anticipated<br />Other communication vehicles used in preparation for outbreak<br />Right place, right time<br />
    8. 8. The theory<br />Diffusion of Innovation<br />Ev Rogers – communication researcher and supreme networker<br />The way a new idea is shared through both interpersonal channels and mass media<br />Begun as way to chart spread of information about and adoption of crop innovations in Iowa<br />Now theory is used as way to share health information on a broad scale – HIV, malaria, STDs<br />
    9. 9. The theory<br />
    10. 10.
    11. 11. The research<br />Over 300,000 tweets used one of three terms (H1N1, swineflu or swine flu) during the height of the outbreak – spring to fall 2009<br />Isolated tweets for three key dates in the outbreak – April 25, Sept. 4, Oct. 24, 2009 = 15,000 tweets<br /><ul><li>Detailed reading of 5,000 tweets for content analysis
    12. 12. Later survey of Twitter users for in-depth information about follow-through on vaccinations</li></li></ul><li>The results<br />Content analysis – three themes:<br />Information-seeking behaviors<br />Misinformation<br />Uncertainty reduction<br />
    13. 13. The results<br />Survey of the users:<br />How often do individuals pass along information?<br />How do they choose what information to pass along?<br />How do they verify the truth of the information they see?<br />How does the information they see on Twitter impact their decisions?<br />
    14. 14. What’s different now?<br />Today, people expect to share information, not be fed it. They expect to be listened to when they have knowledge and raise questions. They want news that connects with their lives and interests. They want control over their information. And they want connection – they give their trust to those they engage with – people who talk with them, listen and maintain a relationship.<br /> – Michael Skoler<br />Media scholar<br />
    15. 15. Influence means what?<br />Per Twitter:<br />Indegree influence<br />Retweet influence<br />Mention influence<br />Popular users who have high indegree are not necessarily influential in terms of spawning retweets or mentions. Most influential users can hold significant influence over a variety of topics. Influence is not gained spontaneously or accidentally, but through concerted effort.<br />- Cha, Haddadi, Benevenuto, Gummadi, 2010<br />
    16. 16. The application<br />
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    21. 21. No, seriously…<br />Don’t:<br />Share information unworthy of your followers<br />Ignore followers’ legitimate concerns<br />Waste time sharing useless information<br />Ignore misinformation<br />Spread information you can’t confirm<br />Abuse your followers’ trust<br />Use Twitter without pondering the ramifications<br />
    22. 22. And even more seriously…<br />Do:<br />Accept the importance of the medium both as an interpersonal channel and mass medium<br />Build relationships before emergencies and crises happen<br />Share salient information<br />Harness power of network<br />Encourage questioning<br />Call attention to misinformation<br />Fill the information vacuum<br />Reduce uncertainty<br />Verify your own information<br />
    23. 23. So what did we learn?<br />Twitter is an important new-ish medium (still NEW to those not in the know (bosses, presidents, chancellors ;) ))<br />Twitter can be used for good and evil<br />Our followers trust us as change agents and opinion leaders – scary!<br />Twitter can’t be the only medium we use to communicate information – it is part of a toolkit.<br />
    24. 24. Questions?<br />tosmith@ualr.edu<br />@marleysmom<br />501.324.9896<br />Complete research is on issuu.com/marleysmom<br />OR… @robin2go can usually find me ;)<br />