On Friday afternoon I was walking around Bondi Beach when I decided to head down to the water to see what the waves were like. It was there that I saw what looked like the end of days approaching the beach. Like most of the tourists in the area, I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture to share on Instagram. As an afterthought, I also posted it on Twitter and included the hashtag #Bondi.
Moments later, 7 News Sydney retweeted my photo to their 104,000 followers and it took off from there. At the time of this writing, its between retweeted over 120 times by people around the world, and has racked up more than 39,000 impressions. It was also used on a number of different websites:
The Guardian - Sudden Sydney Storm Sparks Weather Warning (love that headline!)
As interesting as all the excitement of having my photo shared around is, I'm a bit more interested in the stats behind all that, understanding how and why my photo got shared, and a bit about those cloud formations themselves.
As per the screenshot from the analytics on the Tweet (below), all this sharing result in just a bit over 35,000 impressions for my image. That's massive, considering that most of my Tweets only result in about 150 impressions each, on average. What's especially interesting is that on average, each of those 120 retweets of my photo drove ~290 impressions, almost double what I'd normally get. I think a large part of this is due to the fact that some of the people who retweeted it had far more followers than I do.
What's also interesting to me is that Twitter calculates the engagement rate of my storm photo as 4.94% (via the CSV file of my own data that I exported), while the average for my other Tweets is just a little bit over 2.5%. To me, this is particularly interesting as I've found that normally as impressions go up, engagement rates typically decline. This also inspired me to dig a bit more into the engagement rate across all my Tweets in the past two months and I found that the ones with the highest rate always included a photo.
What's not pictured in the above screenshot (because it didn't fit on one screen and I didn't feel like combining two photos) is that I gained 11 new followers as a direct result of this Tweet.
Why My Photo?
I think I took and posted my photo at the perfect time - the storm hadn't quite hit, and some of the better photos people took hadn't been posted yet. Whoever is behind the 7 News Twitter account must have been scanning for the use of the #Bondi hashtag, and that simple retweet is what really kicked things off with mine. I think I was just really lucky with the timing, as I'd already posted my photo and had sat down with a beer as others were still watching the clouds roll in.
I also noticed that the number of Retweets really slowed down at about the about the same time the storm let up. I assume that like me, most people took refuge in restaurants or cafes while the storm hit and hit their phones to see what was going on.
Who Owns The Photo?
A number of the responses to my photo were from news publications (linked above) asking for permission to use it. While I appreciate them asking, it's also not required as long as a.) my Tweets aren't protected and b.) they simply embed my Tweet, rather than copy/re-upload my photo.
According to Twitter's Terms of Service, I also "own" the rights to my photo.
This is particularly interesting when you look at the Tweet that was embedded by The Guardian Newspaper in their article about the storm. Although they asked permission to use my photo (and I promptly gave it), they embedded a Tweet from a different Twitter user, who had simply copied my photo and claimed it as his own. I won't link to him hear, but when I asked him about it he claimed that he took the photo, then blocked me on Twitter.
What Were Those Clouds, Anyways?
Apparently those were "Shelf Clouds":
A shelf cloud is a low, horizontal wedge-shaped cloud, associated with a thunderstorm gust front (or occasionally with a cold front, even in the absence of thunderstorms). A rising cloud motion often can be seen in the leading part of the shelf cloud, while the underside often appears turbulent, boiling, and wind-torn.
For even better photos of the #SydneyStorm, check out @NamPix on Twitter