Update: added another graph showing the total number of tweets from leading accounts.
Queensland has just experienced a once-in-decades flood event, with the capital Brisbane (where we’re based) hit especially hard. Social media like Twitter and Facebook played an important role in getting information out and organising rescue, relief, and recovery operations.
We’ll have a much closer look at the role of these platforms during the height of the crisis at a later stage, when we find the time – for now, I wanted to post a quick overview of the level of Twitter activity at least. This graph shows tweets using the #qldflood(s) hashtags between 11 and 14 January 2011 (retrieved via Twapperkeeper):
(11 Jan. 2011 was the day that flash floods washed through Toowoomba and devastated towns in the Lockyer Valley. In the early hours of 12 Jan. 2011 they reached Brisbane, peaking early on 13 January.)
Also worth noting: the most prominent participants in #qldflood(s). Here are the accounts which received the most @replies (including old-style retweets – click on the graphs for full size, as usual):
Somewhat surprisingly (since it was relatively unknown before the crisis), the Queensland Police Service’s @QPSmedia account emerges as a clear frontrunner, with media outlets @abcnews (the national public broadcaster) and @couriermail (the local Brisbane newspaper) also very prominent. Key news sources remain important even in social media, in other words, especially during times of crisis.
By comparison, fourth-placed @vonbunnie appears here only because her tweet
RT @vonbunnie: For every RT of this tweet I will donate 10 cents towards the Aussie Queensland flood appeal. Help me out. #QLDFloods
was, unsurprisingly, widely retweeted (and I have not confirmed whether the 372 retweets during these four days did result in a $37.20 donation, or whether @lilithia made good on her promise of $1 per retweet, totalling $291 over the same period).
Also interesting to see celebrities such as @Alyssa_Milano and @Pink featured prominently. Again, this is mainly through retweets, for example of
RT @Pink: My heart and prayers go out to all my Aussies I’m praying for your safety and health and hearts. #qldflood
– the effects of star power! (And note that this only includes old-style retweets, i.e. ‘RT @Pink …’ – not new-style retweets via the ‘retweet’ button.)
But here, we’re already starting to enter a very long tail – almost 400 users in the #qldflood(s) hashtag community received ten or more @replies over these four days, so there was plenty of discussion and retweeting going on across the board.
From Jonathan Este at Walkley Magazine comes the request for a graph of the total number of tweets made by the most active contributors to #qldflood(s) – which is a really great idea, and easy to do. Here it is, again for the period of 11 to 14 Jan. 2011:
Some very active automated feeds there that retweeted a large number of #qldfloods posts (@thebigwetfeed, @qldfloodfeed), but also plenty of regular users pitching in to make sure important messages get widespread distribution. And clearly, emergency services and media organisations are also doing their bit – @couriermail, @QuestNewspapers, @QPSmedia, @abcnews, and individual journalists like @latikambourke all feature in the top 50.
More thoughts on all of this soon – and a request: what would you be interested in seeing? What do you think would best measure the role of Twitter during the disaster? Let us know in the comments.