Posted by: Alexa Morris | October 30, 2016

Use Your Influence for Good

Jenkins, Ford & Green highlight in Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture that newsrooms have struggled to find their new roles, as online communities and citizens make demands on what journalist should cover. This struggle becomes apparent when content is widely spread online, but is not covered by mainstream media.

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Shailene Woodley was arrested while streaming on Facebook LIVE at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) she stated repeatedly, “I hope you’re watching mainstream media.” Her video spread like wildfire online, because users trusted her experience and knowledge about the DAPL. The video was flooded with comments that authenticated her message as she continued to share about her experience. Her message moved people from awareness to engagement, either by sharing the video, commenting, traveling to the DAPL or buying a t-shirt. Her video now has over 4.8 million views and has been shared over 88,000 times.

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Woodley was able to leverage her influence to generate interest from the mainstream media about the DAPL. Her video continues to be sticky even as it spreads, because the audience remains interested in her perspective. Now it is time to observe how the media will frame the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe moving forward.

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  1. Hey Alexa – great post! I’ve never followed Shailene Woodley, but I saw coverage on this and her involvement.

    I recently learned that new Facebook content types (like live video right now) are prioritized in users’ newsfeeds so Facebook can learn how to rank that content for users. In other words – no matter who they are or what they’re saying, friends going ‘live’ are very likely to show up at the top of your newsfeed right now.

    Whether Shailene Woodley knew that or not, this is a great example of very successfully taking advantage of new media to put important content in front of her audience as opposed to putting something out there and hoping people find and share it.

    Do you think Shailene would have gotten as much views/attention/coverage if Facebook wasn’t pushing Live videos to the top of newsfeeds?

    • Hi Timira – thanks! Yes, I have heard that Facebook was prioritizing LIVE videos on users’ newsfeeds. Users also get a notification when a friend goes LIVE, unless they disable it through their settings.

      Shailene Woodley currently has 1.3 million ‘Likes’ on her Facebook page, which means that over a million people received a notification when she went LIVE on October 10, 2016. However this was not the first time Woodley has been LIVE on Facebook about the DAPL. She has been using Facebook LIVE to talk about the DAPL since July 31, 2016. So her followers are aware of what she is going to talk about when they receive a notification that she is LIVE.

      Since she has gone LIVE so many times in the last few months I suspect the Facebook algorithm could have been working against her that day (but who really knows). It is possible that the video would have been spread regardless if Facebook pushed it to the top of newsfeeds or not, because she is a public figure that was arrested.

      I agree, she has done a great job utilizing this new medium to reach her fans and beyond to shed light on the DAPL. Woodley has truly evolved into a citizen journalist. I hope that one day her reports/story will be listed in the News section, rather than the Entertainment section of Huffington Post.

  2. Sorry, here’s my source:

    Facebook: “we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live”

  3. First of all, thank you for writing about this. As soon as I read this post, my spidey-senses started going off like crazy! We had a conversation in class previously about how diversity plays a major role in the stories that are selected for mainstream media. The coverage of the DAPL is a perfect example of what the lack of diversity in the newsroom looks like.

    This is a huge story, and if it weren’t for someone like Shailene Woodley, how long would it have taken for us to know about this movement? I will be honest, I had no idea what was going on until I saw Tris from Divergent being hauled off to the slammer. Shailene called mainstream out in front of the world, and they had no choice but to respond. A lot of the time citizen journalists don’t have the professional belles and whistles as mainstream media, however, it is raw and delivers what we know to be real and without a slant.

    You also mentioned that “her video spread like wildfire, because users trusted her experience and knowledge”, and it all made sense to me. We all know what can be done with a stereotype, a camera, editing equipment and a little Adobe Premiere. What she did on Facebook Live took every ounce of distrust from us as viewers. Her footage was untampered with, which made us believers, and in the end, highly spreadable.

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