The bin Laden Announcement – A Case Study in Social Media

Do you know where you were when you heard bin Laden was dead? This will be a question asked in the future, much like the question, where were you on 9/11, or where were you when Kennedy was assassinated.

I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was assassinated, I was in Florida visiting family on 9/11 (I was among the first to fly after 9/11,) and I was watching Celebrity Apprentice and using Facebook when the bin Laden news started to spread like wildfire around the web.

I found out the same way a lot of people did, online.  Since I was watching tv via dvr I was behind, which means I didn’t learn from the tv, which by the way is how I learned about 9/11. No, the news started slowly when a friend noted that President Obama was about to give an address.  She wasn’t sure why.

I posted that the President was about to give an address and told everyone to tune in at 10:30, the time given for the address originally. People picked up on my post and started asking questions.  There were over 20 comments until we switched to a new post. Here is what fit on one screen.  And remember, this is just my Facebook account.  Note the timing.  It is 4:00pm as I am writing this post. I posted about the announcement 17 hours ago, or around 10:00 pm. The first response that it was about bin Laden came just a few minutes later. 1.5 hours before the President made his announcement.

Meanwhile things were going nuts on Twitter. Most people learned something was up, and exactly what it was, long before the tv ever announced it, and they learned it on the web.

Twitter actually broke the story in the first place, because someone in Pakistan inadvertently live tweeted the incident. He himself has become a short term celebrity and is bemused by his place in history.

Twitter and Facebook accounted for the quick spread of the information and no doubt resulted in a substantial number of people watching tv or viewing video of the announcement on the web.  But we all knew long before the President’s announcement what was going on. And we knew because of Twitter.  In the past we would have had to wait until the President made his announcement, no longer.

News spreads so quickly now, and the chances that the story will be broken long before any formal announcement is great due to the number of people sharing news on social media sources.

The interesting thing is that many people did turn to more traditional media to hear or read about the President’s announcement. I watched him on tv and read an analysis of the mission on both the New York Times and in a local paper. So it is clear that traditional media and social media can work well together if they are so inclined.

How did you find out?  Did you wait for tv? Did you know long before the President’s announcement around 11:30?

A common joke on Facebook by the way? Obama got back at Trump by interrupting his show. It was right when he was about to announce who he fired.  Go figure.

Subscribe to This Blog