3 Great Uses of Twitter: “Bonny Bear,” #NotBuyingIt, and Breaking News

ONE:  To find out what people are really talking about — the back story to the news

‘Bonny Bear’ wins two Grammys, confounds populace 

The Grammy’s bore me, so I recorded the 3 1/2 hour show and whizzed through all the stuff I didn’t care to see. I was delighted to hear Bon Iver win and see Justin Vernon accept an award in his groovy Dunderdon suit from St. Paul mens’ shop, BlackBlue.

Reading Twitter, I think I was in the minority; it was hilarious. This is what everyday America really thought, excerpted from Vita.MN:

The real fun came from the Web reactions to Vernon’s unlikely wins, a collective “Who???” from mainstream music fans. A “Who is Bon Iver?” Tumblr page quickly popped up, aggregating tweets and Facebook comments from baffled Grammy viewers. Among the choice entries, from tweeter @riccyGee: “What the fuck is a Bon Iver? Sounds like a fucking appetizer at Red Lobster and shit.” And from @TDice4: “Bon Iver?!? Are you joking me?? Who is that? He looks like a lumberjack, go back to Canada!”

A slightly more adorable meme was spawned from a large crop of confused viewers who seemed to think something called “Bonny Bear” was taking home awards. “This Bonny Bear character needa shoot his barber,” tweeted @KoolAidKleff, in reference to Vernon’s thick, full beard.

TWO:  To bring attention to an issue — #NotBuyingIt — that traditional media skips

I hosted a Super Bowl ad party and a game broke out, to paraphrase a famous quote about Minnesota hockey. The ads were not particularly creative, interesting, or memorable except for their sexism. At least we can always count on GoDaddy.com for that…oh wait Fiat, Kia, BestBuy, and Teleflora, too.

Boos and hisses in my basement echoed on Twitter with the #NotBuyingIt hashtag promoted by Girls For A Change and MissRepresentation and reTweeted and repeated still, today–15 days later, which on Twitter, is a lifetime. However, there was nothing in my progressive, big city local paper.

Here are a couple of choice quotes from the Twittersphere courtesy of MotherJones on Storify:

@Kristennel:  @telaflora @godaddy My 12yo independent, smart, creative daughter is watching now. don’t make me explain your stupidity, pls. #notbuyingit

@gladuem:  Really? A woman’s body is a billboard or a car? My daughter and my wife are not commodities. @GoDaddy #notbuyingit

@katgordon:  Best Buy has great record mktg to women but they featured only men inventors in #brandbowl spot #notbuyingit

@sitcomofmylife:  Women love it when you leer at them. It makes us crawl all over perfect strangers. Wait, no, it makes us feel unsafe. #notbuyingit

THREE: To Break News, To Read it First

Last May working hard on Twitter, I hollered down to my husband, “What’s up with riots in Vancouver?” He had no idea what I meant even though he was watching the Stanley Cup live. So he came upstairs and watched the YouTube video some bystander had posted on Twitter. Of course, network TV eventually picked up the story, but I knew first.

Did it matter? No.

But if someone Tweeted about straight lines whipping across the Twin Cities, I’d run to the basement and then turn on the radio.

News breaks on Twitter sometimes an hour before it’s confirmed in traditional media. On Twitter it spreads virally– I read something and share it with my followers, who do the same and in 10 seconds something can be shared thousands of times.

The key, of course, is confirmation. What makes something real and true? If a journalist Tweets it, I believe it — they’ve proven their reliability. What about the people I “know” only on Twitter, can I trust them?

I use my common sense. Essentially, I believe something if it appears to be an “eye witness account.”

  • Mobile updates
  • Tweets with photos or video
  • Volume of Tweets vs. reTweets

Maybe that’s why my local television station calls their programming “eye witness news.”

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