Wednesday October 13th, most of the world were watching with baited breath as the rescue mission started for thirty three Chilean miners trapped about 700 meters below the ground. All thirty three men are doing well and it seems that their only cause for concern would be dealing with the new found fame.

The media is always a good reflection of how an event captures the heart of people and this was no different. In fact this event caused a few social media records to break as people watched, followed and tweeted their support for the famous miners.

Chilean Rescue almost as popular as the Obama Election

Shortly after rescue operations announced they would start the rescue the next day (5pm on Tuesday the 12th October) traffic to online news websites surged to record the 5th largest spike in global news traffic since 2005.

online media consumption

Chilean miner rescue creates 5th largest global news traffic spike

One of the largest success factors to the increase in online media consumption has been the new technologies in streaming video of the event to online viewers. Essentially allowing CNN to broadcast 4.6 million live streams of the event. In addition this translated into 82.5 million page views on the website.

What was the social media impact?

Mashable explain this the best so let me quote them rather:

Social media platforms were likewise ablaze with activity during the rescue. The word “Chile,” was mentioned approximately 252,000 times on Tuesday and another 412,000 on Wednesday (for a total of 667,000), according to social media measurement platform Trendrr. Those numbers only represent a fraction of the total figure, as many mentions of the event used words like “miners,” “rescue” and “men” in hundreds of languages to refer to the incident.
A measurement taken of the top six terms (chile, miners, chilean, rescue, pinera and feurzamineros) in a 10-hour span beginning Wednesday afternoon recorded 647,000 mentions, peaking at 104,000 tweets per hour at around 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, as illustrated in the chart above.

Twitter has also been flooded with tweets of well wishes from celebrities including the likes of twitter prince Justin Beiber

On the YouTube front over 16 000 videos were “tagged” with the words “Chile” and “miners” meaning that the videos were relevant in some way to the rescue mission taking place.

So what’s the take away?

It is very evident that people are taking to the internet to find out about news related events. This is not new information, people have always used the internet to research, however in this example it is interesting to see how many people chose to create content online by tweeting their thoughts, uploading video content and engaging in conversations online (and we haven’t even looked into Facebook yet). No longer are we looking at an audience or consumer who is simply consuming online media but rather we now have a consumer who is actively engaging the world online in a multi-layered conversation.

Social media is creating and new communication context. Not necessarily a new and different communication vehicle that will over-throw TV and radio, but rather a synergistic extra layer that provides more context and interest.

Social media did not replace TV as people gathered to watch the rescue, rather it made the rescue more accessible and more interesting to the people involved.

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