Social media case study: the Stanley Cup hockey riots

Image courtesy of pixdaus

When the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks and became winners of the Stanley Cup earlier this month no-one expected social media to help resolve the violent riots that broke out on the Canadian streets.

As one journalist aptly described it:

“Watching the post-Stanley Cup apocalypse was like staring at a car wreck. It was hard not to look. Hard not to get enraged at the burning, breaking, looting, violence and mayhem perpetrated by the worst kind of brainless, destructive losers.” Robert Marshall, Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

For the last 15 years or so there have been a lot of riots in Canada caused by the hockey. However, this year, Canadian citizens had enough and decided to take it upon themselves to name and shame the alleged perpetrators and the most successful way of achieving this has been social media.

The use of social media sparked off when the mayor of Vancouver requested that any information on the riots and the people involved should be passed forward to the police.  Ever since then, a number of blogs and Facebook groups have been very active, with lots of angry citizens posting pictures and tagging the rioters that they recognise. There are already upwards of 100,000 people on some of these Facebook sites and according to various sources over 2,000 pictures of rioters have been posted.

So why have the Stanley cup hockey riots resulted in such a successful use of social media? The reasons that social media has been so effective in this situation is because:

  1. It is great for bringing a  group of people together around a common agenda (catching rioters that have trashed their community).
  2. People are really engaged when they are contributing to a good cause.
  3. It bridges different social circles - in this case, using social connections to extend the reach of the photos increases the chances of someone being able to identify a rioter.
  4. Functionality is simple to use yet effective - you only need to tag photos.
  5. It happens very quickly and it was a very cost effective medium for reaching a large audience.

There has been some criticism about whether its right to use social media for this activity - some people have criticised the various online groups because they have turned social media into a surveillance tool as opposed to a communications tool. The public ‘name and shame’ element has also been treated with reproach because of the potential to erode communities offline.

While I definitely disagree with using  social media in a “big brother” type fashion, photos and video footage would be used to identify people anyway and given the nature of the situation I think that it’s a very effective example of how social media charactaristics can an existing task more efficient.

What do you think?

Articles relating to the riots and involvement of social media for helping identify potential perpetrators:

  • Vancouver riots: The shame and the blame spread online
  • Go get ‘em, Vancouver Hockey rioters deserve jail
  • Vancouver: Riots after Canucks’ Stanley Cup defeat

What are your social media photo rights? Image T&Cs examined

What are your social media photo rights?It’s always an area that has little transparency, who actually owns the rights to our images once we upload them to social networks? Could I end up seeing one of my photos all over the web, in the papers or on TV? It’s a common question that’s asked when we run our social media strategy sessions with clients.

Steps to retaining the copyright of your content

First, determine whether sharing an image is a bad thing. Sometimes, an image being viewed many times can be good for your personal and professional brand image. However, if you want to protect yourself:

  1. Understand the rules of the site you use (they change often)
  2. Avoid posting pictures that you’re particularly ‘protective’ over
  3. Delete or export any content that you don’t want shared if it’s on a network that could distribute it (see a great post by The Next Web for more information on this)
  4. Be selective with your privacy settings and licensing selections
  5. Use sites like TinEye to see if your images are being shared where they shouldn’t be.

Kathy E Gill from Media Shift compiled a great list of the terms and conditions relating to photo usage on most social media sites. It’s a great resource for seeing the relevant information side by side and identifying which platforms could take credit for the photos that you create. (She also wrote a great blog post covering this in more detail)

So who are the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of photography rights?

Retain most rights:

“You retain full copyright of any original content that you send us. By posting to Posterous, you’re granting us a license to distribute your content on this site.”

Your images are licensed for use on Posterous but you retain how they are distributed.

flickr (by Yahoo!)
“Photos and/or images found on Yahoo! Images or Flickr are the property of the users that posted them. Yahoo! cannot grant permission to use third party content. Please contact the user directly.”

As long as you control your licensing settings you can limit use to Yahoo! properties.

yFrog (by ImageShack)

“The content that you distribute through the ImageShack Network is owned by you, and you give ImageShack permission to display and distribute said content exclusively on the ImageShack Network.”

After the Twitpic cotroversy, ImageShack have reversed their policy to give you more rights and limit the use to the ImageShack network.

Publicity / partner sharing:

Picasa (by Google)

“You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”

This distribution of your content is also extended to the Google Partners, of which there are many!


“Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials.”

However any content that is shared publicly can be used by Instagram for their promotion across any media.

Limited rights / sublicensing:

All of the following services have some form of ‘sub-licensable’ rights:


“You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”


“However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service.”


“Subscriber shall own all Subscriber Content that Subscriber contributes to the Site, but hereby grants and agrees to grant Tumblr a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, transferable right and license (with the right to sublicense), to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content and to allow others to do so (“Content License”) in order to provide the Services.”


“By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)”

All the statements about terms and conditions of the various photo sharing sites in this post are my own interpretation. Please visit the terms and conditions of the relevant site to view the official statements.

Brands need to use social media strategically, not get advice from gurus

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

2011 is the year of the social media backlash. Well, apparently. Whether or not you believe this, there’s one thing that’s certainly true: this is the year when things will change for social media agencies and for brands.

A  quote in a recent article by Tim Sanders really got me thinking about social media strategy. Some of the language used in the article is intended to provoke a response, but the content of the blog post, in essence, is excellent.

The article was based on a quote by Chris Kirubi, Chairman of Coca Cola Nairobi:

“You don’t need a social media strategy - You need a brand strategy that leverages social media.  Don’t get off the brand strategy just because there’s a new communication channel; that’s how you lose the plot as a brand.  Technology is the tail, not the dog.”

As you can probably imagine, this led to a lot of  “social media consultants” backing into a corner or pulling together overly verbose, nonsensical reasoning to justify their existence. Instead, what they should have focused on is that everything, including social media,  comes back to the company aims, brand strategy and more importantly business value.

As part of the social media strategy team at FreshNetworks (and I say that without worrying about that definition) our job is to look at how social media can be used to contribute to how the business operates. Yes, we do know alot about social media. But what sets us apart is that most of us come from a variety of business backgrounds with different skill sets and experiences.  This really helps us get to the crux of how and why  social media can be used for different business functions. By applying this knowledge, and providing pragmatic, expert advice, legitimate social media consultants have nothing to fear.

One way that we think about a strategic approach to social media is based on a model used by Prof. Gerry Johnson, Prof.Kevan Scholes and  Prof Richard Whittington in Exploring Corporate Strategy (2006), which shows all the different aspects we consider when thinking about how social media could be used to meet business objectives. Key to this process are the following three areas:

  1. Analysis: understanding why you want to use social media, what is already out there, what your consumers want and the resources that are available within your organisation.
  2. Strategic choice: given all the information available from your analysis , the next step is to consider which tools and concepts will produce the best results for your company.
  3. Strategic implementation: social media is not just about a good idea or a campaign; it is as much of a cultural change as it is a technical one. It requires proper planning to ensure that what you have chosen is executed in a way that makes sense to the rest of your business.

I think by now most companies will have either tried social media themselves, or might have  reached out to agencies for help, and will be wiser about the value of social media; they will know when they are being fed rubbish.

As  a result, will the  “blood-sucking social media gurus” , as Milo Yiannopoulos describes them, simply disappear? Lets hope so. And will there be a market for people who actually understand social media? Definitely. 2011 will just be a year of distinguishing between the two.

DrupalCon 2010 and the future of Drupal

Last week a few members of the FreshNetworks development team went over to Copenhagen to find out about the latest developments in the Drupal world at DrupalCon 2010.

Drupal is the open source content management system that we use here at FreshNetworks to develop our online community sites.

Drupal has various advantages over other content management systems (as described in our post on why Drupal is a great social media platform (in layman’s terms)) and has grown rapidly in use over the last seven years or so.

Paul Oram and James Andres, both experienced “Drupalistas” and  members of our tech team,  attended the conference this year to speak  find out more about the latest Drupal developments.

In the video below Paul explains these developments and what we can expect from Drupal in the next release and what developments it is taking over the next few years.