Social Media Monitoring Case Study: The “Hollenshead Departure” and P2P journalism

While this Social Media Monitoring Case Study is about a videogame related topic, it is interesting for every Social Media | PR Manager dealing with “Peer-to-Peer journalists”, bloggers, or forums. On June 26 at 21:09 UTC, IGN America (link) broke the news that id Software’s president left the company.

Now, the race for news began, in a viral pattern typical among gamer websites. It took the American site Polygon twelve minutes to run the same story, quoting IGN (but at least being bold enough to double-check the source – something less than a handful of others did). Kotaku, another main “multiplier” site, had the story 21 minutes after the original post. After 23 minutes, the story was on NoFrag in France. After 31 minutes, it was published by CGV in the UK, where it was re-published by GamesIndustry.biz after 43 minutes. Meristation in Spain had night-shift and needed 62 minutes to run the story. After 106 minutes, the story had reached Australia and New Zealand (Gameplanet). Germany was reached 139 minutes after the original post, when the nightshift of 4Players ran it.

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It took two hours for the story to be copied around the world. Within 22 hours, one hundred websites around the globe ran the same story, nearly all of them without double-checking facts. 77 of them quoted IGN as source, 15 mentioned no source at all, three Polygon, two 4Players.de or Gamesindustry.biz, and one each CVG, Develop, or Gamespot.

And this timeline does not take in count the nowadays popular multiplier channels Twitter and Facebook:

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View on Twitter: Quoting the IGN RSS feed, “Ola” and “Gaming Obsessed” have been the first Twitter users to break the story. By time of writing, 490 tweets mentioning the name have been published.

 

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Since the introduction of Hashtags to Facebook, the network got even more interesting as a news source.

 

Two-and-a-half years ago, when I still looked on gamer feeds on daily bases, I was sure that any story originating in the US takes mere minutes to be copied by European sites. (Twitter was growing more and more important as news source, but it was no way as imporant as today.) In this case: 22 minutes to France, but it was nighttime in Europe. A post incoming around 18:00 CET would have been copied everywhere by 22:00 CET. (Curious indeed that the departure was not making more headlines in the US. It’s basically unimportant as of 09:00 CET on Friday morning, while the Americans have had a whole day to talk about it.) The other way around, a headline story written in German, French, or Dutch, did take up to 24 hours to be translated into English two years ago, while multiplying between Germany, France and the BeNeLux within hours, or at least shortly after end of school. Given the thighter cooperation of the pan-European networks Eurogamer and Gamereactor as well as the European IGN subsidaries, this timeframe is likely to be much shorter today.

So still, “easy” games PR can be made by giving something “exclusively” to IGN or one of the other major multiplicator sites in the US. Polygon, a rather well-made looking site, hasn’t been around two years ago, and former bigwigs 1Up and Gamespy are gone. Kotaku, Venturebeat (more the business point of view) and Gamespot are still sure bets if you want to “seed” topics. It’s interesting to follow the “infection patterns” stories take if you are responsible for (not only games) Social Media outreach. Looking into the ways news and rumors take, you will be able to pinpoint various nodes. Such nodes are in every area of peoples interest, if you deal with cars, mobile phones, International Cooperation, movies, or knitting. Build proper relationships with the editors | bloggers | twitterati at these nodes to be sure once a brand “damaging” story starts spreading you are able to feed correct information to the right people. If you do it right, P2P journalists will double check facts with you, maybe alert you to an issue that escaped your notice. (Even Social Media PR staff has to sleep…)

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Disclosure: This was made in Frankfurt, Germany. Proudly powered by sweat, RSS, Excel, Filemaker, and a drop of magic. ;-)