State of the Nation address and its ‘drinking game’ trend heavily on Twitter

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The State of the Nation address delivered by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday evening, and the drinking game that accompanied it, was Twitter’s number one trending topic early on Friday morning. Renowned blogger Khaya Dlanga and South African radio shock jock Gareth Cliff had a big hand in spreading the trend to their large Twitter audiences.

Never shy of controversy, South African shock jock, Gareth Cliff, has taken to social media like a man possessed. He is a Facebook juggernaut with his Page comprising more than 275 000 fans, and he has managed to amass close to 90 000 followers on Twitter – since he joined the social network at the end of 2008.

Cliff hit the headlines once again, as he used his on-air and online platforms to rally support for the hashtag #JZSOTNDrinks – a drinking game designed to be played during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address which was broadcast on Thursday evening.

Cliff has a passion for history and politics, which is evident in the discussion topics that emanate from his 5FM breakfast show.

Some may argue that he is controversial for the sake of controversy. He has been wrapped over the knuckles by the BCCSA for ‘conversations with Jesus’ in 2004, making light of the death of former Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, via Twitter and most recently, by acting as a catalyst in the creation of the worldwide trending #JujuFriday meme when the ANCYL threatened to close Twitter.

There was mixed reaction to the State of the Nation drinking game. Cliff’s fans championed the concept, while many suggested this was a 5FM ‘stunt’ that promoted irresponsible drinking and trivialised the importance of the President’s address. I tend to disagree.

Cliff adds a certain sexiness to politics that has been lacking for a generic, mainstream, South African audience. The online spread of this initiative is testament to the success that he had in pushing viewership of a speech that, quite frankly, would have been disregarded by the very audience that Cliff encouraged to engage.

BrandsEye, South Africa’s global online reputation management (ORM) tool, launched its latest version of software this week, and tracked both yesterday and this morning’s mentions of conversations relating to #JZSOTNDrinks and #SONA2011.

To date there have been 2828 mentions, versus the 3352 general ‘Zuma State’ mentions respectively, with 94% of the conversation being driven from a purely consumer source, i.e. a source that is not linked to a traditional news site or platform.

Once again, conversations generated from South Africa, with a modest Twitter population of approximately 100 000 users, this time with #JZSOTNDrinks, muscled their way onto the global trending topics of the 170m strong social network.

Tim Shier, MD of BrandsEye suggests, “The reason why South Africa can compete with some of the bigger, international Twitter communities has to do with the timezone. The State of the Nation address was aired while it was 5pm in the UK, the States was outside of its ‘conversational sweet-spot’ (it was between 9-11am) and Australia was asleep. SA owns that particular timezone. It is clearly our trending sweet-spot”.

Shier continues, “Late last year, BrandsEye also tracked conversation around the Currie Cup Final, more specifically the Battle of the Fans. The daily conversation was a third of the portion around the #SONA2011, indicating, people are still more inclined to talk about current affairs and politics as compared to sports.”

What are your thoughts on Gareth Cliff’s ‘#JZSOTNDrinks’? Childish stunt or incredibly intelligent agenda to spread South African politics to a new audience?

Key stats:

Trending themes within conversation related purely to the content of Zuma’s speech included the following:

  • The phrase “job creation”, accounted for 22.6% of this conversation and “1,2 bn” with reference to the fund created for this purpose caused 2.3% of this conversation
  • “Mubarak” accounted for 1.7% of this conversation
  • Retweets within this conversation occurred 636 times
  • Within conversation generated by Cliff’s #JZSOTNDrinks, the hashtag SONA2011 accounted for 36.9% of mentions
  • Herein. retweets occurred 932 times – making the nature of Gareth Cliffs online conversation somewhat more viral than the SONA2011 conversation
  • Engagement of firestarter Gareth Cliff trended at 14.3% of all mentions and 9.8% for counterpart DJ Fresh
  • “SONA” – was the worldwide number one trending hashtag – and this featured in 755 times in both conversations
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