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April 09, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay Demonstrations Caught by Scott Beale on Flickr, Twitter & His Blog

By Li Evans

Laughing_squid_logo Would you like to see word of mouth marketing at it's finest?  Then you need to check out Scott Beale's coverage of the Olympic Torch Run that happened in San Francisco today (4/9/008).  Word spread like wildfire what Scott was doing, mostly because he uses Twitter.

I'm one of those "lurking" fans of Scott.  I have subscribed to his blog for a long time.  I also follow him on Twitter and was just enthralled with what was unfolding before his eyes and how it was a bit different than what the media was reporting.  This is the kind of "citizen" journalism that has just sprung to life in the last 2 years.  Take a look at what all Scott used to get the "message" out about what was really going on today at the Olympic Torch Run in San Francisco.

Scott didn't just use one medium of communication in the social media spectrum he used 3 different specific services along with 4 different ways to consume the information he wanted to communicate with his followers / visitors / readers.  Twitter started the buzz.  His blog announced his intent and Flickr fed the consumer need.  So, lets take a closer look.

First we have Scott's Twittering of the accounts that happened from his point of view from the streets of San Francisco (selected snippets from his Twitter feed):

  • in this video a group of pro-China supporters try to cover up a Tibet protest sign with a Chinese flag: http://twurl.nl/f4o4ar            39 minutes ago  from web 
  • what was interesting today was that the two sides were all mixed together in the crowd, here's a typical scene: http://twurl.nl/p4b1vj          about 1 hour ago from web   
  • throughout the day the pro-China supporters were chanting "Liar!, Liar!" at the pro-Tibet supporters, here's a video: http://twurl.nl/pf7qdc          about 3 hours ago from web
  • here's the most powerful image I saw today, as a shot it a pro-China supporter was told me not to believe the lies: http://twurl.nl/18mhia          about 3 hours ago from web   
  • ok, this video upload was successful "Stop Killing, Leave Tibet", gives an idea of what the scene as like http://twurl.nl/j6xlo0          about 3 hours ago from web 
  • damn, I lot of the video I'm trying to upload to Flickr is craping out, I wonder if they are overloaded today          about 4 hours ago from web 
  • I'm working my way through the photos and video, which I'm posting here: http://twurl.nl/gpwxcz          about 4 hours ago from web
  • ok back home, will be uploading photos and video soon          about 4 hours ago from web   
  • dead at 3rd & King, current reports are the torch will travel via boat          about 5 hours ago from txt 
  • cops now clearing 3rd north of King          about 5 hours ago from txt
  • I'm at 3rd & Berry, east side in front          about 5 hours ago from txt   
  • @rockbandit what's your 20?          about 5 hours ago from txt               in reply to rockbandit    
  • man yelling "China!" in my ear          about 5 hours ago from txt
  • one Olympics athlete walked by earlier, maybe it was the hand off guy          about 5 hours ago from txt   
  • sorry, when I said 4th street before, I meant to say 3rd          about 5 hours ago from txt
  • having a friendly chat with the cop next to me, they are in standard uniforms, not riot gear          about 6 hours ago from txt
  • hundreds of cops now being deployed on 4th          about 6 hours ago from txt
  • pro China are trying to cover up Tibet sign with Chinese flash          about 6 hours ago from txt   
  • ground zero, cops lined up on both sides of 4th @ ATT Park          about 6 hours ago from txt
  • @maubrowncow yeah the chants would go pro-Tibet people yelling "Free Tibet!", followed by pro-China people yelling "Liar!"

Next we have (thanks to Flickr's newest feature added yesterday) both vivid photography and short video clips.  Understand that if Scott had wanted to, he had the ability (via cell phone) to upload videos & pictures immediately, but chose different equipment to shoot the pictures and videos that have a lot better quality.  Although not instantaneous, he still got them up within a matter of hours after the event took place.  Below are some of Scott Beale's (Laughing Squid) remarkable photos & great short videos (photos are clickable to larger versions in Scott's Flickr account).

Scott Beale's (Laughing Squid) images of the Olympic Torch Run Demonstrations in San Fransisco 4/9/08
Scott Beale's (Laughing Squid) images of the Olympic Torch Run Demonstrations in San Fransisco 4/9/08

Lastly we have Scott's blog, which communicates to thousands of subscribers.  Scott only lives a block from where the Olympic Torch Relay was suppose to start, so this offered him the perfect opportunity to capture the Olympic Torch Relay & protest visually for his readership to see.  Not only that, the delivery of this media (photos, videos & blog post) was much faster than what any newspaper or practically almost any other medium could deliver.

Who would have thought 10 years ago, people from around the world could know pretty much instantaneously what was happening at an event like this?  That as everyone expected the "Pro Tibet" demonstrators were out, but so were the "Pro Chinese" out showing support for their cause.  Scott captured this and delivered it in such vivid imagery, it is literally amazing when you think about how far we have come.

So doesn't that make you stop and think, both business and marketing wise?  Look at the close to instant effect Scott Beale's coverage had.  What if something "bad" or even something "good" happened at your business?  Consumers are now armed with cellular phones that have not just cameras but video cameras in them.  It merely takes moments now for your customers to upload that short video clip of your service man sleeping on a couch, or what ever that is floating in their soup, or the condition of the car they just got back from the dealership.  Get the picture?  Literally?

Social media isn't a fad (sorry to disagree with you Chris!).  Social media is a medium of communication that anyone in business or communications should be acutely aware of, since its impact (whether you are part of a conversation or not) can have drastic affects.  Just look at what Scott Beale did today with all the social media tools in his arsenal.


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This is a great way to make the public aware of events as they happen, the way they really happened. We're using social networking in an attempt to increase political activism and responsibility around immigration issues. Great job!

There's several important requirements before a story can go viral, whether via mainstream media or the Social Networks, like this one did.

Something like protesting for human rights in Tibet in the middle of built up urban areas has the most potential, because the 'social' part, the people, are interested, are impacted, and have access to the Networks.

Seal clubbing in Canada has limited access to the networks at the place the story is occurring. However, the the first two still hold to a certain extent.

But what about, say, human rights in Zimbabwe ?
No interest or impact to the people with access to the Social networks, therefore no viral story.

Awesome! The advent of social media is the best thing to happen to social justice advocates. China is going to be one open book this summer.

I was working away today, only 1/2 paying attention to twitter, on my 2nd monitor as I did my thing. I saw "laughingsquid" on my twitter IM client, with a little more frequency than normal.

I saw some interesting tweets, so I had to pull up his page on a browser and check out what was going on. Then later I saw a tweet about the photos and short flickr videos hitting his stream, so I had to check it out.

I likewise was impressed. Nice recap.

~AcmePhoto (everywhere)

I was sitting in London following the play by play of the SF torch route drama all via Twitter. Scott rocks and so do the others sending updates via @sftorch

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