Death of Steve Jobs Fails to Break Twitter Record

RIP Steve JobsWe all heard the sad news yesterday that Steve Jobs, founder and visionary at Apple, had died at the age of 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

I heard it from a client who lives one mile from Apple headquarters and was awoken by helicopters over his house at 4.30am. But most people heard about it via social media. Within seconds of an official statement released by Apple, the first tweets started to appear.

“#ThankYouSteve for the magic you brought to people’s lives.”

“iSad. RIP Steve Jobs for leaving your mark on technology.”

“My iPhone made all the difference during earthquakes on 4 Sept, 22 Feb & 13 June - it found my kids & reassured my family #eqnz #ThankYouSteve”

“Life is the only thing Bill Gates has beaten Steve Jobs at. #ThankYouSteve”

“Steve Jobs changed the world. We have lost a true pioneer and American visionary #iSad #ThankYouSteve”

Twitter users started spreading the news of Jobs’s death, adopting #SteveJobs #iSad and #ThankYouSteve hashtags attached to their tweets. For the first few hours, the rate of Twitter activity about Job’s death looked like it was going to break the tweet per second record of 8,868 tweets per second, set after U.S. R&B artist Beyoncé announced her pregnancy at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.

Australian social media monitoring firm SR7 estimated that Twitter activity hit 10,000 tweets per second following the announcement:

“We’re awaiting the official Twitter data to be released, however, from the numbers that we’ve been monitoring through the day since the announcement it’s certainly been trending to break that record,” Peter Fraser, co-founder of SR7, told the news agency Agence-France Presse.

TwitSprout went even futher, claiming tweet activity reached 42,000 per second at one point.

But it was Twitter who finally revealed the truth. In a statement given to Forbes last night, a spokeswoman from Twitter said that their internal data showed a rate of 6,049 tweets per second. That’s faster than tweets following the death of Osama bin Laden (a little over 5,000 TPS), but below the 8,868 tweets per second that followed Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement.

But even though the death of the technology icon failed to break the all-time tweet record, Steve Job’s death *did* break Twitter temporarily. The site fell over for around 2 minutes under the weight of the heavy initial tweet load.

Apart from anything else, it’s an interesting insight into the growth of Twitter. Consider this: following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 there were just 493 tweets per second being sent, yet this was still enough to crash the service.

As a final tribute to Steve Jobs and the impact he had, Twitter staff put together a fascinating infographic portrait, consisting of a visualization of public #thankyousteve Tweets, sent over about 4.5 hours yesterday.

RIP Steve Jobs.

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McDonalds Dip Their Toe in Social Media, Have it Cut Off

Last night, McDonalds New Zealand decided to launch a Twitter account via @MaccasNZ. According to their first tweet, the move was to copycat their competitors Burger King and Subway:

“Decided to join @burgerkingNZ & @subwaynz and get Twitter. Follow us for promotions and cool stuff!”

I noticed their account this morning and decided to follow to see how such a major brand would proceed to dip their toe into the Twitterverse. It was like watching a train wreck.

The launch failed on a number of levels:

1) The first tweet basically said they’re only on Twitter because their competitors are. Sorry but the *Me Too* factor is not reason enough to get excited. Neither is “Follow us for cool stuff!” Yawn.

2) Their second tweet was grammatically incorrect: “Wanna win with McDonalds” (missing a question mark). Also, win what? Ok, these are pretty minor issues, but you’d think such a major company would assign somebody with a better grasp of English to represent their brand, wouldn’t you?

3) Their third tweet simply revealed how bored the person manning their Twitter account actually is:

“I think it’s time for McDonalds”

How underwhelming.

4) However, it was their fourth tweet that really scratched FAIL into the golden arches:

“Shakey town Christchurch I think you could do with some McDonald’s #eqnz”

For those of you reading this unfamiliar with the #eqnz hashtag - it stands for Earthquake New Zealand and it was adopted following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake we had last September. As anyone who lives in Christchurch will tell you, we feel a certain ownership of the #eqnz hashtag and do NOT appreciate accounts that use it to spam or promote non-earthquake related content.

After @MaccasNZ included the hashtag in the above tweet, Christchurch-based tweeps became quite vocal about what they saw as blatant abuse of the tag:

@kcolbin tweeted: “@MaccasNZ Please don’t spam the #eqnz hashtag.”

This was followed by retweets by @7point1squared and @WendyDavie.

Then @esoap tweeted: RT @MaccasNZ Shakey town Christchurch I think you could do with some McDonald’s #eqnz * MCD use twitter to spam earthquake thread in NZ

And just like that, New Zealand’s most recognized brand offended their audience. During their first 24 hours on Twitter.

5) Not to be outdone, their 5th tweet reveals they don’t know the difference a possessive and a plural: “Grab one of the McDonald’s dinner box’s tonight”. (Thanks @ThisCJ for pointing out this one!).

Apart from the fact that it has taken the NZ arm of this major brand so long to embrace Twitter, I’m curious as to who they have running their account and whether that person has any solid experience on Twitter. They certainly don’t seem to have twetiquette. Nor do they seem to have a grasp of English grammar.

Somebody just pointed out to me that the account is not verified, so perhaps this isn’t an authentic account. But, if it is (and I’m checking), the brand has gotten off to an awful start. Even if it isn’t verified, this would appear to be a case of brand-jacking that has gone unchecked for more than 24 hours. Neither is a great scenario. McDonalds seem to be having better success with their Facebook account though.

Let this be a lesson - don’t trust just anyone to represent your brand via a Twitter account. It’s not the job for some junior staffer and it’s not the job for your PR department. Marketing staff might be the obvious choice, but you need to find someone who is social, has experience in the medium and has a solid knowledge of your business and target market. Whether that person is internal or external staff doesn’t matter, in my opinion, as long as they’re the right fit.

Meanwhile, it’s fascinating to watch the drama unfold. Dare I say, I’m lovin it.

Postscript 1: The consensus is that this is NOT an official account endorsed or created by McDonalds New Zealand. I’ve tracked down the Twitter accounts for McDonalds marketing and both @McDonaldsCorp and a representative of McDonald’s advertising agency in New Zealand have both denied the account is official and claim to have known nothing about it.

Postscript 2: On their Facebook page, McDonalds New Zealand has publicly responded to my question about @MaccasNZ with the following statement:

“Hi Kalena - nope, that’s not us, but thanks for alerting us - we’re looking into it.”

So there you have it folks. A brand-jacking it was - but instead of satire, the purpose of the @MaccasNZ account appears to have been legitimate promotion that has backfired. Will be interesting to see if they manage to shut it down or replace it with an official account.

Postscript 3: The profile for @MaccasNZ has just been changed from “Official Twitter for McDonalds NZ” to “UN-official Twitter for McDonalds NZ”.  So clearly, some pressure has been applied from Golden Arch HQ.

Postscript 4: Turns out @MaccasNZ *IS* an official account for McDonalds NZ. Two new tweets today reveal the true story behind the account:

“Sorry we got off on the wrong foot. We are a McDonalds franchise acting on behalf of McDonalds New Zealand.”

“Also we are sorry for the mistakes in our tweets, New to twitter and letting certain staff use the account = not a good idea.”

They’ve removed the offending tweet containing the #eqnz hashtag, as well as the one containing the grammatically incorrect apostrophe. The profile for @MaccasNZ has been changed AGAIN to read A twitter for McDonalds to communicate with its followers from New Zealand.

So as I suspected, these were the actions of a well-meaning franchisee who created an official account without official permission and assigned the account to an inexperienced staff member.

Great to see them reveal the true nature of the account and fess up to their social media FAIL. Hooray for transparency and well done McDonalds New Zealand for following up.

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First Tweets After the Christchurch Earthquake

earthquake tweetsAs I mentioned in my blog post yesterday about the Christchurch earthquake, I used Twitter as my sole source of information during the disaster.

I jumped on Twitter about 20 minutes after it happened, as did many people throughout Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand. But what amazed me was that some Christchurch tweeps managed to jump onto their Twitter account DURING the quake itself and tweet from under their tables and doorways.

The fact that people were putting their Twitter addiction above their personal safety is a bit alarming, but it’s also an incredible endorsement of Twitter and brings home the impact of social media as a whole on our psyche.

I think back to the last earthquake I witnessed first-hand, the 1989 Newcastle, Australia earthquake (which was only a Richter magnitude 5.6 by the way, making this week’s earthquake 15 times stronger!) and the only connection I had to other people affected by the quake was over the neighbor’s fence until the power came back on a few hours later and the TV reports started dribbling in. Phones were jammed, information was scarce and nobody seemed to really know what happened for hours and hours.

The ability for us to receive news and summon emergency resources instantly is one of Twitter’s best, albeit accidental, advantages. It goes beyond the boundaries of social media and becomes a vital communications tool. Even with all the clever applications that have been developed using the Twitter API, the impact of Twitter’s original functionality in emergency situations like the Christchurch earthquake cannot be underestimated.

I’ve been collecting the first 3 tweets from people after (and even during!) the quake. Emotions were running high, so the f-bomb features in some. If you’re a prude, you might want to look away now. I have linked to the actual tweets as well so you can see their time stamps.

First Tweets After Earthquake at 4.35am, Saturday 4 September 2010:

From: @kalena

  • QUAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (
  • Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck 7.2 earthquake 30 km from here. We are camping in car right now (
  • Quite a bit of damage to our house I fear. Glass breaking, lots of things falling as we ran out. What a horrible way to wake up #earthquake (

From: @polarbearfarm

From: @swiftynz

From: @kylierichardson

From: @zurtle

From: @lilGin

  • And the one day I don’t charge my phone we lose all power. Fuck you Murphy and your laws! #earthquake (
  • My living area/kitchen smells like a mixture of peaches, pickles, some sort of vinegar type substance. #earthquake (
  • Bet people are wishing they had thought about how to “get thru”. I am. We don’t even have batteries! #earthquake (

From: @serenity22

  • just got power back in Riccarton/Ilam #nzeq (
  • @MsPraxis  - all ok, no damage to the house apart from some hairline cracks in ceiling. bit of breakage, nothing major. shocks still coming (
  • had to go find the old fixed line phone to save the cell (

From: @crashhelmet

From: @benkepes

From: @kevinnz

From: @Aupajo

From: @kiwiscotsman

From: @bronmarshall

From: @Craig_Forster

From: @rachel_a

From: @mrsgooding

From: @kiwichrish

From: @NatashaUtting

From: @matt_dempsey

From: @Motmunter

From: @kcolbin

  • @rachel_a Thanks, girl! You ok after this morning’s adventures? (
  • Power back on now. Holy moley, that was scary :(  (
  • @rachel_a Dang, I should go to Fava! Good idea! We’ve got power back now, had been cooking up a storm in our campervan :-)  (

More will be added as they come in.

What were your first 3 tweets after the quake? If you want to contribute, please @reply me links to them at @kalena with #firstthreetweets as your hashtag or simply add links to them in the comments below.

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July Search Light Newsletter: the *at least it’s not August* edition

Search LightIssue No. 3 of the Search Light newsletter for 2010 was published today.

Yes, I’m well aware that we are in month 7 of the year and this is supposed to be a monthly newsletter. But at least I got it out this month and didn’t let it become an August issue :-)

This edition includes an article about Twitter and the US Library of Congress. What prompted the Library of Congress to decide our tweets were of historical value? How will the archiving of public tweets impact you?

It also contains some of the more interesting FAQs answered in this blog and even details of a sweet marketing gig going at Google for someone with the right stuff.

If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber catch it here and then quickly go and subscribe before I find out and kill your hampster (just kidding).

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Twitter and Privacy: History Never Retweets

Ever had a case of the *tipsy tweets*?

You know what I’m talking about. The type of tweets you’d never post to Twitter sober but that seem highly amusing after a couple of alcoholic beverages. The ones you rush to delete on Monday morning in a coffee-induced panic when you remember what or who you tweeted. Yeah those.

Well, the next time your fingertip hovers over the send button after you’ve had a few, you might want to think twice about letting it make contact with the keyboard.

It turns out that the Library of Congress has decided to digitally archive EVERY public tweet that has been posted to Twitter since the site launched in 2006. With 50 million tweets processed by Twitter every day, that adds up to billions of messages.

The Announcement

The news came in mid April, first via the Library of Congress’s own Twitter account and then via public announcement during Twitter’s first Chirp conference for developers. This was followed up by blog posts from both the Library and Twitter.

Why Archive Tweets?

So why the interest in digitally archiving tweets and is it really necessary? Staff at the Library of Congress think so:

“Twitter is part of the historical record of communication, news reporting, and social trends - all of which complement the Library’s existing cultural heritage collections.  It is a direct record of important events such as the 2008 U.S. presidential election or the *Green Revolution* in Iran. It also serves as a news feed with minute-by-minute headlines from major news sources such as Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

At the same time, it is a platform for citizen journalism with many significant events being first reported by eyewitnesses,” said Matt Raymond, the Library of Congress’s Director of Communications.

“Individually tweets might seem insignificant, but viewed in the aggregate, they can be a resource for future generations to understand life in the 21st century.”

Don’t Panic

Now before you panic about your entire Twitter history being laid bare to a grubby public, you should know that there are some protections in place.

Twitter has insisted there be at least a six-month window between the original date of a tweet and its date of availability for internal library use, non-commercial research, public display and preservation by the Library of Congress. Private account information and deleted tweets will not be part of the archive. Neither will linked information such as pictures and URLs.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington also doesn’t see a problem with it:

“I think folks understand that whatever they post on Twitter is meant to be searchable”, says their senior counsel John Verdi.

“I don’t see a big issue here.”

That might change, he says, if the US government tried to identify individuals through their tweets or by cross checking user tweets with their information from other federal databases.

Personally, I can see this happening unless further protections are put in place. It’s probably happening every day.

Gift Wrapped

It’s important to note that the Library did not purchase the archive. It was gifted from Twitter and the original legal document outlining the donation [PDF link] is publicly available via PDF.

“Recently, the Library of Congress signaled to us that the public tweets we have all been creating over the years are important and worthy of preservation. Since Twitter began, billions of tweets have been created”, says Twitter co-founder Biz Stone in their official blog post about the donation:

“Today, fifty-five million tweets a day are sent to Twitter and that number is climbing sharply. A tiny percentage of accounts are protected but most of these tweets are created with the intent that they will be publicly available. Over the years, tweets have become part of significant global events around the world - from historic elections to devastating disasters.”

“It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research.”

About the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and it is the largest library in the world, regularly researched by government staff, law enforcement agencies, law firms, authors, scholars, scientists, students and academics. The Library receives more than 1.75 million readers and visitors annually and employs a staff of more than 3,600. According to Twitter, it’s a logical home for their archive.

What Does it All Mean?

So with billions of tweets added to the federal archive, how can we expect the data to be used? With Twitter’s entire history archived, it shouldn’t be long before we see tweets being used as evidence in criminal trials and various lawsuits.

Tweets have already been cited in defamation cases such as the one between 25 year-old Chicago resident Amanda Bonnen and her landlord, Horizon Group Management LLC. Following a disagreement with Horizon Group about mold allegedly found in her apartment, Bonnen posted on her public Twitter account:

“Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay”, to which Horizon Group responded with a defamation case to the tune of USD 50,000.

Although a Google-cache of her now deactivated account shows she had just 17 followers, Horizon claimed Bonnen’s tweet severely damaged their good name because it was published “worldwide”. Ironically, the publicity the case received probably did more damage to Horizon’s public image than Bonnen’s limited tweet. The case was thrown out due to lack of specific context in the tweet, but it does set an interesting precedent for other potential cases.

Whatever the legal and privacy implications, knowing your tweets are being preserved for historical significance and stored in the same building as priceless documents like the Declaration of Independence, should be somewhat humbling.

Who knows, future generations may one day point to your “OMG you guys! @justinbieber just walked into @starbucks!” tweet with the same awe reserved for George Washington’s copy of the US Constitution.

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