The trial of Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius has dominated news in South Africa so much that the public has lost sight of the Oscars (Academy Awards) and the South Africa vs. Australia cricket match, which the Proteas subsequently lost.
“Blade-runner” is standing trial after shooting and killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013. Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to the charges and plans to fight this case tooth and nail to prove his innocence. Oscar’s case has dominated South African news so much that the public has temporarily forgotten or barely noticed recent news. We can’t blame the public because Multichoice has created a 24-hour channel to document the case. Several social media accounts have been created to follow and update about the case. As a result of this coverage, Oscar Pistorius, The Oscar trial, Michelle Burger, witnesses and much more have been trending topics almost daily in South Africa and some parts of the world.
Pistorius has been mentioned over 8000 times in the past month, we haven’t even accounted for spelling errors or other hashtags that include his name. The #OscarPistorius hashtag attracted just over 2500 tweets over the same period and the #OscarPistoriusTrial hashtag collected just under 3000 tweets. But the hashtag that has dominated timelines through tweets and retweets is the #OscarTrial, attracting over 92000 tweet mentions. See image below for statistics.
#OscarTrial is clearly the leading hashtag and has been discussed by celebrities too. Influential twitter folk have driven the conversation and once again shown that a tweet or retweet by an influencer goes a long way in driving on-line engagement. @KhayaDlanga has the most engaged tweet with the #OscarTrial hashtag, bringing in just over 32000 engagements in the form of retweets and mentions. See the tweet below.
The thing about Oscar’s case for me is about the fact that he intended to kill whoever was behind the door. #OscarTrial
— Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) March 4, 2014
It is influencers like @KhayaDlanga who have the followers and social media clout to get topics going and even direct online conversation. Brands are always on the lookout for such influencers to promote their brands and help create awareness for campaigns or products.
The #OscarTrial has some way to go still, given the large number of people lined up for the witness stand. Let’s see how much longer its interest on social media holds out.