Occupy Gezi: How Twitter Facilitated a Social Movement in Turkey

Last summer in Turkey, a small protest over the removal of trees in Gezi park began a large movement trying to protect one of the last green spaces remaining in the heart of Istanbul. The movement resulted in 1,900 people being arrested and nearly that many were reported injured. Social media served as the primary source of information for citizens. We interviewed Yalçın Pembecioğlu of Bigumigu about how the movement sparked and what it means for social media in Turkey. This is part of our SXSW Data Stories, where we’re interviewing presenters about their data talks. Yalcin is presenting on #Occupygezi Movement: A Turkish Twitter Revolution.

(Gnip is hosting a SXSW event for those involved in social data, email events@gnip.com for an invite.) 

Yalçın Pembecioğlu of  Bigumigu

1. How did Twitter help create the #Occupygezi movement?

During the start of the event, none of the broadcast networks covered #OccupyGezi. Not even a little bit. I guess this encouraged people to take control and be their own media. Suddenly, everybody started to take and distribute pictures and videos from the places that events took place. The content from citizen media went viral in seconds.

2. Why would people choose Twitter over mainstream media as a source of information?

If the information is coming from someone you trust, it is very important information. During #OccupyGezi, people have seen the cold brutal face of the mainstream media. Our friends were on the streets and they were telling unbelievable stories. We have decided to believe our friends and families, instead of the mainstream media.

3. How did the #Occupygezi movement respond to rumors via social media?

It was emotionally devastating to see the police brutality towards the protestors. At those kinds of times, I guess people become more tolerant to biased information. But many of us, including me, spent hours on the computer to decipher the dirty data into real bits of information. Hence the term “kesin bilgi mi?” was born in the Turkish internet. It means “is it a confirmed information?”. During #OccupyGezi, when important information came up, we were all asking questions to confirm it, and if it is confirmed, then we spread the information, if it’s not, we were warning the source to double check the data. Now it’s like a common meme on the internet to reply any joke as “kesin bilgi mi?”. We have learned not to trust everything on the internet in a quick course.

4. After #Occupygezi, how did the use of social media change in Turkey?

The most popular social media platform is Facebook in Turkey with over 30 million active users. After #OccupyGezi, penetration of Twitter has accelerated. It is said that nearly 1 million new accounts were created during the #OccupyGezi weeks. It is believed that Twitter has around 9 million active accounts in Turkey. A society, which was very comfortable in symmetrical networks discovered the power and potential of unsymmetrical networks.

5. Overall, what does social media mean for revolutions?
Social media is the place for individual voices. It is very important for revolutions, because via social media we see there are thousands, millions of people out there just like us. I am not sure that the social media will be easily spoiled by power holders in the future, but for now, it can be the single source that an individual’s voice can be heard.

Eric Swayne on the Fundamentals of Good Data Narration

Leading up to SXSW, we’ll be doing Data Stories with SXSW presenters starting with Director of Product of MutualMind, Eric Swayne, who is speaking on “Scientist to Storyteller: How to Narrate Data.” (Gnip is hosting a SXSW event for those involved in social data, email events@gnip.com for an invite that goes out in a month or so.) 

Eric Swayne

1. In your SXSW session, you’re going to talk about being more than a “data janitor.” What do you mean by this?

Data Janitor is a term that resonates with many Analysts currently, as they’re basically being used for maintaining the facilities: scrubbing data sources, pushing data into prescribed buckets, rolling out the same reports because they’re the reports “we’ve always done.”  These are still important, but we have to aspire to more. People that live in data analysis have the crucial opportunity for extracting meaning that transforms businesses through data-driven decisions, and it takes much more than just pushing out the monthly graphs and charts.

2. How important is visualization to good data narration?

Great data visualizations put incredibly powerful tools in the hands of Data Narrators that enable them to tell better stories, as well as extract insights from incomprehensible data sets.  However, it’s critical not to confuse the visualization WITH the insight – they are distinctly separate, and not necessarily dependent upon each other.  A simple pie chart that tells a CEO exactly what they need to know to make a good decision isn’t any visual tour de force, but it clearly gets the job done.  In all cases, visualizations should serve the story: the string of insights that lead to data-driven decisions.  When a good picture makes a good idea stick, that’s when you know the Data Narrator has done their job.

3. What are the trademarks of good data narration?
You’ll often see three key hallmarks:

1. True Insights – An insight tells me something I don’t know, that I need to know, and that I can do something about.  If the data story doesn’t include these three elements, it’s factual or irrelevant, not insightful.

2. User-Centric Approach – Human Interface Design isn’t just for UX professionals – Analysts need to become more adept at its principles as well.  Everything we say in a report or dashboard through form, color, size or spatial relationships carries meaning – whether we intended it to or not.  Data Narrators not only understand their story but also their audience: what they’re used to seeing, how they might be biased against certain ideas, and what assumptions they’re making based on what they see and hear.

3. Idea Inception – I would call this “stickiness”, but we have a much better term for it now, thanks to Christopher Nolan and Leo DeCaprio! Work from great Data Narrators shows an intent to focus the audience on an idea, and make sure they remember it. Data Narrators often focus not on the meeting where they present their work, but the NEXT meeting their audience is having, and whether they remember what was said and use it.

4. When marketers misinterpret data, what are the ramifications that you see?
Of course the ultimate impact of misinterpreted data is bad decisions, but it usually starts by creating bad stories. Urban legends pervade businesses just like any other culture, and they often sound enough like real data that they’re not questioned.  “Our site visitors click on blue more often,” “We’ve never had a good Q4 for product X,” “Twitter hasn’t driven sales for us like Facebook,” and on and on. These “data-ish” stories are particularly insidious because they’re often unquestioned assumptions, and voices that seek to pick them apart are often quashed as trying to “rock the boat.” Storytelling isn’t just a tool to be used for good or ill – it’s the default processing protocol for human brains. Where good, data-driven stories are NOT created, it leaves a vacuum that others will fill with whatever they remember.

5. What are your data pet peeves? What is the data equivalent of driving slow in the fast lane?

  • Confusing correlation with causation. I know, I know, we say this maxim so many times it should be the Data Scientist’s Golden Rule. But the fact is that it’s tremendously hard for humans to avoid this trap, particularly when correlations appear to validate the opinions we already have. This is why it’s incredibly important for us to question each others’ assumptions, and to be open to ours being questioned.
  • “Perfect” data. When charts show a straight line, or scatterplots neatly cluster, or r^2 results are incredibly high, I get suspicious. Nothing in nature is perfect, particularly when humans are involved – the reality is that while many of our behaviors can be consistent, they aren’t absolute.  It’s incredibly important that we use analytics and statistics to tell the story that the data tells us, not the one we want to say.
  • Trophy numbers.  When I start a new client engagement, I like to ask them what their Trophy Numbers are.  These are the stats and figures that are used to report upwards (and often justify jobs), but that we know have no inherent value.  Pageviews, Hits, Impressions, Potential Reach, and Asset Views are all often found in this category.  While these may be good symptoms of success, they almost always aren’t the way your business wins in the world.  Data Narrators don’t ignore these, but rather they lead clients on a journey from here to better KPIs that indicate real business success.

If you’re interested in more Data Stories, check out Gnip’s collection of 25 Data Stories. 

Help Gnip Present at SXSW!

We had a great time at SXSW this year with our Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots event, and we’ll be heading back again next year. We’ve submitted three speaker submissions this year, and if you think the below are topics you’d like to listen to at SXSW, we’d love an upvote (or three!)

The Anatomy of a Twitter Rumor:
Solo presentation by Gnip’s lead data scientist Dr. Scott Hendrickson 

Like a match to a fireworks factory, the hacked AP account ignited rumors that President Obama had been hurt in a terrorist attack causing a hundred billion dollar drop in the stock market. What was even more significant about the Hash Crash was the ability of Twitter users to suppress the rumor and cause the market to rally within minutes despite how quickly and far the rumor spread.

This session by Gnip data scientist, Dr. Scott Hendrickson, will look at the anatomy of a Twitter rumor, how it spreads, how Twitter users react with accurate information and how rumors die. Looking at a bank run, the rumors from Hurricane Sandy and the Hash Crash, we’ll see why Twitter users are good at ferreting out fact from fiction and how to recognize the difference on Twitter.

White House Hash Crash

A look at the White House Hash Crash

Beyond Dots on a Map: The Future of Mapping Tweets
Ian Cairns of Gnip and Eric Gundersen of MapBox

Earlier this year Gnip and MapBox collaborated on three different maps using geotagged Tweets and this presentation is an extension of that work.

What can 3 billion geotagged Tweets collected over 18 months tell us? Turns out, a lot. Gnip collaborated with the team at Mapbox to study 3 billion geotagged Tweets in aggregate and visualize the results. That work led to 3 maps showing iOS vs Android usage, where tourists vs. local hang out, and language usage patterns. From just these maps there were some surprising findings revealing demographic, cultural and social patterns down to city level detail, across the entire world. For instance in the US, Tweets from iOS showed where the wealthy live (http://bit.ly/iOS-maps). The data has many other stories to tell as well. As Twitter use becomes more ubiquitous, it’s increasingly serving as a valid proxy not just for what’s happening “on social media,” but for what’s happening in the world in general. This is the first time social data has been mapped at this scale, and we’ll talk about both lessons gleaned from the data and what we learned about making this big of a visualizations.

Marketing’s Big Data Dissonance:
Duo Presentation by Rob Johnson of Gnip and Dan Neely of Networked Insights

Marketers know they need big data, but like the velvet rope blocking entrance to a SXSW music event, the perceived barrier is hard to overcome. The problem for the modern marketer: cutting through the noise of all of this data and zeroing in on insights that can help them better reach consumers. Big Data grows every day and marketers are faced with an additional challenge: keeping up with the speed in which new consumer data is created. The good news for marketers is that there’s no shortage of places to get information about consumers–point of sale systems to mobile check-ins to even consumer conversations across the social web. Together, all of these actions add up to an incredible mass of information known as Big Data for marketers. In this session, Networked Insights will be joined by Gnip and to discuss the tools and techniques that marketers need in order to turn the mass of Big Data into actionable and understandable insights.


Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots at SXSW

Derek Gottfrid of Tumblr

This past 2013 SXSW, Gnip brought out the big guns so to speak. We held our first SXSW event, Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots, on Monday at Malverde for more than 200 of our awesome customers and publishers. We were lucky enough to have Derek Gottfrid, VP of Product, interviewed by our Chris Moody, Gnip’s COO.

You can check out our photos from Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots on Facebook or check out our Storify with Tweets, Instagrams and Vines of the event!

We were also able to attend several great sessions related to social media and social data, and our notes from the sessions are below!

Building Tools for Creativity 
David Karp of Tumblr

David talked about creating Tumblr as a “hacky tool” because he had tried all of the tools and wanted a better way to express himself on the web. After creating the tool, he was surprised that within a week there were a few thousand people using it.

One aspect of Tumblr that has always amazed David Karp is how its users have defined its use. With the reblogging button, it created a whole community that wasn’t about creation but rather curation, which is a huge part of Tumblr’s identity. When they made panoramas from the iPhone easier to share and more presentable on Tumblr, they found a bunch of new immediate use cases. Jamie Beck created the cinemagraph, a gorgeous and more dramatic GIF. One person shared whole boards from a video game he was designing.  You can’t predict how people will use new Tumblr features but how they will use it will surprise you.

David also perfectly captured a trend on the web, “Images are first class citizens and everything else is a distance second on the web.”

Real-Time Marketing

David Teicher, Ad Age; Bonin Bough, Mondelez International (makers of Oreo); Steve Doan, Oreo; Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia; David Berkowitz, 360i; Albert Chou, Expion

Gnip was lucky enough to be invited to this private, invite-only panel held by Expion, and it was definitely a favorite by those who attended. This panel focused on real-time marketing and was from the group that brought us the much talked about Oreo Super Bowl real-time marketing.

One area that really stuck out to me was when Bonin talked about how social media made the ROI of each marketing mix more powerful. That social media made their TV spend twice as effective, and that any marketer interested in ROI would want to make their spend 2X as effective. Marketers shouldn’t look to understand how much value they received for each Tweet but rather take a look at the ROI of the overall ecosystem.

Another aspect that really resonated was talking about how hard it is to measure traditional marketing and how much easier it is to measure social media. They talked about how advertisers are faced with a “pass-around rate” for circulation in case someone leaves a copy of Vogue on the bus. Or how unrealistic billboard advertising views are because as Gary mentioned everyone is also likely texting and driving and not paying attention to advertising. Social media ROI is easier and more realistic to prove.

To make real-time marketing work, you should have a willingness to prepare. As David Berkowitz pointed out to do real-time marketing you should ask, “What are you doing every single day of the year?” Gary also talked about from an agency perspective how frustrating it was for him as his clients didn’t move fast enough, which is a familiar problem for agencies.

This panel also brought up the point that using content for marketing purposes is nothing new. Michelin created the Michelin guide for restaurants and hotels once they realized people liked taking road trips. Or when Guinness had problems selling pints, they created the Guinness World Records. Now today it is companies such as Red Bull creating the content as part of their brand.

The State of Blogging 
Matt Mullenweg of Automattic and Kara Swisher of All Things D

This was a hilarious session about blogging, and was helped tremendously by Matt and Kara’s back-and-forth banter.

Matt talked about how he created WordPress because he wanted better software for blogging and was frustrated by what was on the market at the time. Creating WordPress was a “happy accident.”

When asked about whether social networks were hurting blogging, Matt told the audience that social networks had breathed a second wind into blogging. Social networks drive significant traffic to WordPress sites. Matt also mentioned that different social networks create different ego boosts for different reasons and Kara told him that he needed a dog.

Matt believes that WordPress might not have the most users, but that they have the best users. It offers a lot of flexibility and power for serious bloggers. WordPress continues to grow year after year and much of that growth is organic. Matt thinks they’ve beat out other competitors by understanding personal publishing better than anyone else.

One area that Matt sees that WordPress needs to improve upon is their WYSIWYG editor and that the experience there and on mobile could be so much better.

Matt is always trying to think about how people will be digesting content 18 months from now, so right now he is thinking about how Google Glass will change the content experience.

Matt also talked about what makes a good blog post and emphasized that pictures can really create a better reading experience.


Can't Miss Social Data Sessions at SXSW

Below we’ve compiled our list of can’t miss sessions for those working in social data! Drop us a note in the comments if we’re missing a great panel that social data folks would be interested in.

Also, Gnip is hosting an invite-only event for those companies driving the social data ecosystem on Monday called Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots, which will feature great networking, a quick interview with the amazing Derek Gottfrid of Tumblr, custom bourbon drinks developed by Gnip’s Rob Johnson, and the best patio in Austin. If you work in social data and want an invite, please email bre@gnip.com. 


#pathonly: Social’s Shift Towards Real Privacy
5:00PM – 6:00PM
Hilton Austin
Dave Morin of Path


How Twitter Has Changed How We Watch TV
9:30AM -10:30AM
Austin Convention Center
Jenn Deering Davis of Union Metrics

A Home on the Web: The State of Blogging in 2013
12:30PM – 1:30PM
Hyatt Regency
Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, Matthew Mullenweg of Automattic

The Rise of Contextual Social Networks
3:30PM – 4:30PM
Sheraton Auston
Colleen Taylor of TechCrunch, Francesa Levy of LinkedIn Today, Nate Johnson of Path, Sarah Leary of Nextdoor

Data Science Through the Lens of Journalism
3:45PM – 4:00PM
Hilton Austin
Zanab Hussain of SimpleReach

Big Data: Is It Killing Creativity?
Hilton Austin
Matt Langie of Adobe


Social Media Was Fun. Has Measurement Killed It?
5:00PM – 6:00PM
Sheraton Austin
Matt Thomson of Klout, Adam Schoenfeld of Simply Measured


The Future of Location: From Social to Utility
12:30PM – 1:30PM
Austin Convention Center
Dennis Crowley of Foursquare

The Rise of the Planet of the Creatives
5:00PM – 6:00PM
Omni Downtown
Danielle Strle of Tumblr, Claire Mazur of Of a Kind, Jamie Beck, Jen Beckman 20X200


Location! The Importance of Geo-Data
11:00AM – 12:00PM
Sheraton Austin
Catherine D’ignazio of MIT, Devin Gaffney and Mark Graham of Oxford, Monica Stephens of Humboldt


From 140 to 0: The Rise in Image-Based Marketing
11:00AM – 12:00PM
Austin Convention Center
Nate Auerbach of Tumblr, Scott Sperry of Sperry Media, Shannon Schlappi of Locker Partner, Vince Bannon of Getty Images

Twitter and SXSW: Barometer of Trends

Last week we talked about tracking SXSW from 2007 to 2012 using Gnip’s Historical PowerTrack for Twitter. This gave us insight into year-over-year trends in SXSW Tweets and now we’re going to look at how SXSW trends have changed over time.

With every square inch of Austin packed with the social media influential, SXSW provides an interesting avenue to examine trends, big and small, to see what people are talking about on Twitter. Now that companies can use Gnip’s Historical PowerTrack for Twitter to baseline events, it provides a whole another avenue to determine trends.

Party vs. Panel
People have such a love/hate relationship with SXSW. Some people love it for its networking opportunities and great sessions, while other people decry it as one giant party. Letting the data speak for the truth, it seems that in earlier years of the conference, people came for the panels and hopefully to learn something from their peers. But by 2011, the word “party” overtook those interested in “panel” by more than 10,000 Tweets. People were talking about the best places to meet people rather than the best places to learn. That same year, there were 13,072 mentions of the word RSVP in SXSW Tweets talking about plans to find the best parties and likely indulging in the practice of RSVPing for 136 events and actually attending 12 of those events.

Geo-location Wars
While Twitter is useful for helping understand how cultural events are changing, the use cases extend further into helping understand the rise and fall of startups. With the launch of Foursquare and Gowalla at SXSW in 2009, it was the beginning of the so-called geo-location wars. Many people have wondered how Foursquare ended up the winner, and SXSW provides interesting insight into how Foursquare came out on top. Back in 2009, if you looked at SXSW Tweets, it would tell you it was anyone’s game because surprisingly Foursquare only received a little more 100 Tweets than Gowalla. By 2010, Foursquare had been more clearly marked as the winner with Foursquare receiving nearly double the Tweets that Gowalla was receiving. At that point, everyone was still writing posts to determine the pros and cons of each service, but the social data was clear — Foursquare had the buzz that year in part to their ability to easily publish updates, badges and mayorships on Twitter and perhaps even their rogue game of Foursquare outside the Convention Center. By 2011, Foursquare had completely suckerpunched Gowalla with Foursquare receiving the lion’s share of public voice receiving nearly 65,000 Tweets to Gowalla’s nearly 8,000 Tweets. By the end of 2011, Facebook ended up making an acqui-hire for the Gowalla team.

BBQ vs. Tacos
This next trend might seem silly, who cares if more people are interested in BBQ or Tacos? I mean, what significant impact can this social data have? But if you’re a restaurant chain or looking to start a new franchise chain, it would be interesting to know about cultural food trends such as the rise of cupcakes as it is happening.

While many have long suspected that Austin was a BBQ kind of town, the social data has shown that at the last SXSW, Tacos overtook BBQ as the most talked about grub to grab. More data science would have to be done to determine if the Taco is becoming a more widestream cultural trend, but when all other Tweet volumes were falling in 2012, the term Tacos was charging full-steam ahead.

This is just the beginning of what social data can tell companies about trends and market research. We think historical social data will provide invaluable to market research with the sheer volume of conversations that are happening on Twitter.