A Hurricane of Tweets | How Social Media Reported Ophelia in Ireland
16th October 2017 will be a day remembered in Ireland for Ophelia. She made landfall from the south of the country bringing warm temperatures and raging winds with the entire country under a red weather alert.
It was a day to work at home for many as Ex-Hurricane Ophelia battered Ireland and made us stand up and take notice of her strength. Social media provided an invaluable real-time news outlet for all Irish citizens. So I decided to analyse how social media reported Ophelia in Ireland.
Today citizens, parents, employees, business owners, public services, emergency services, travel operators and politicians played their role in making sure we stayed safe as possible during Ireland’s worst storm in 50 years.
In times of crises social media comes into its own. Storm Ophelia was a classic example of this. At the time of writing, three people have lost their lives as a direct result of this deadly storm. 360,000 people left without electricity. The human impact evidenced by these facts.
Three people die in Storm Ophelia incidents https://t.co/LR3W79JXct pic.twitter.com/Lm4g5pHuj5
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 16, 2017
Despite power cuts and reduced mobile coverage we were able in the most part to stay updated by tuning into the online conversations dominated by Ophelia.
#Ophelia. Tree fallen at Glenageary Rd /Monkstown Rd. Pls avoid and use alternative routes pic.twitter.com/LnyxsrH8xM
— Garda Info (@gardainfo) October 16, 2017
A Watch Tara St have dealt with an unsafe window in the city centre #Ophelia #Dublin Our 30 metre turntable ladder was used #fire pic.twitter.com/o18KF2NSjr
— Dublin Fire Brigade (@DubFireBrigade) October 16, 2017
Front line emergency workers really do not get enough credit, nor do their social media managers who keep us updated in real-time.
Thanks to all our dedicated staff in frontline services and emergency services for their work today and every day #Ophelia pic.twitter.com/nzwHOaGRyA
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) October 16, 2017
We strongly advise the public to stay away from exposed beaches, cliffs & piers, harbours & promenades during storm conditions #Ophelia pic.twitter.com/Gi5yEn5hv5
— Irish Coast Guard (@IrishCoastGuard) October 16, 2017
Busy day shift for staff in our National Emergency Operations Centre, #NEOC Our Paramedic, Adv.Paramedic & ICO crews Nationwide #Opheila pic.twitter.com/tJ6ibgTzdE
— National Ambulance (@AmbulanceNAS) October 16, 2017
#Ophelia Update Our priority will be taking calls relating to emergency & dangerous situations on ESB Networks on 1850 372 999 #staysafe pic.twitter.com/wHyTOD31bo
— ESB Networks (@ESBNetworks) October 16, 2017
From my analysis, here’s what I discovered.
How social media reported Ophelia
Using social media analytics platform Talkwalker, I unearthed the data relating to #Ophelia over a 24-hour period in Ireland.
- Over 278,000 online mentions were published across social networks, online news sites, blog and forums from 7pm on 15th October to 7pm on 16th October
- Sentiment relating to Ophelia leaned towards negative with 18% of mentions, while 10% of mentions were positive
- The hashtag had over three quarters of a million engagements at 778,000
- It had 802 million cumulative impacts
- The gender breakdown of online conversations was almost equal at 51% male to 49% female
- Hashtags used alongside Ophelia included #staysafe #Limerick #Douglas #Dublin #Hurricane #Monday and #Breaking
Lt Col Stephen Ryan outlining the availability of the Defence Forces across the country to Local Authorities pic.twitter.com/6HnsyGBzGj
— OEP (@emergencyIE) October 16, 2017
Still gusting in the high 90’s around our coasts this evening.
Plus a graphic showing warnings across Europe today.https://t.co/LrbK9hF6FA pic.twitter.com/4GXtdb6txL
— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) October 16, 2017
Twitter dominates social conversations about Ophelia
Social media provides citizen journalists with a voice and an opportunity to share real-time updates from the literal eye of the storm. Journalists curate that content and use it for TV, radio, print and online broadcasts.
It will come as little surprise to most that Twitter dominated the Ophelia discussions online. As the main go-to channel for breaking, evolving and all news topics.
- 274,5000 Twitter mentions
- 706,000 engagements
- 456 million impacts
The top Tweet using the hashtag #Ophelia came from @NoelySteven who captured him Mum’s attempt to save the bins from Ophelia.
Despite only having 204 followers, the third year student nurse at DCU managed to capture the imagination of an adoring public with his ‘hidden camera’ footage of Ma. His tweet had over 12,000 likes, 3,725 retweets and 217 comments!
My Ma looks like she’s dragging a wounded soldier over the enemy lines, her nerves are gone watching the bins #Ophelia pic.twitter.com/CxqT5JCzST
— Noel Dowling (@NoelySteven) October 16, 2017
Sky’s David Blevin‘s video, republished by The Galway Advertiser Facebook Page, from Salthill, near my home, had almost 60,000 views at time of writing.
Sean Hassett, a computing student at DIT and Press Officer with Galway International Rally tweeted his parents landing at Dublin Airport. His skilled footage drew the attention of Tweeters with 10,000 engagements.
My parents flight landing @DublinAirport, well done to the pilot of EI491, my heart was in my mouth! #ophelia pic.twitter.com/2EvzA1BKk6
— Seán Hassett (@SeanHassett) October 16, 2017
JSB’s final thoughts on Ophelia
Social media plays an important role on days where an emergency is unfolding. Today was one of those days for the people of Ireland. We followed the hashtag, we listened to the emergency services and took the Government agencies advice from the national emergency plan. We saw the lighter side of the storm and shared fun Tweets and Facebook updates with each other to lessen the boredom of being indoors.
Over the coming days we will remember those who lost their lives and share our condolences with their families and friends.
Thank you to all the emergency services, front line staff, our Government, the National Emergency Coordination Centre and the media for keeping us updated and helping us to keep safe.