HighEdWeb Assocation
The Annual Conference for Higher Education Web Professionals, Austin, Texas, October 23-26, 2011

Session Details

A Little Birdie Told Me - What the H1N1 Outbreak Taught Us About Using Twitter

SOC9 Social Media Track

Texas Ballroom, IV - VII


Traditional media scholar Michael Skoler recently said, "Today, people expect to share information, not be fed it. They expect to be listened to when they have knowledge and raise questions. They want news that connects with their lives and interests. They want control over their information. And they want connection – they give their trust to those they engage with – people who talk with them, listen and maintain a relationship." Though Skoler was talking about traditional media, the principles of engagement apply to social media as well. We all know that we have to have conversations with our audiences and more importantly listen, but why is this approach so important? Do folks actually listen to what we have to say when we tweet? What do they do with that information? After studying Twitter interaction surrounding the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, prevalent themes (reasons people Tweet) were identified. How information about the virus was shared, reshared, and modified - as well as how individuals acted on that information - was eye opening. This research has concrete implications for how we use Twitter in an university environment, and how we integrate it into our communication plans.