Yesterday was supposed to be the day the Internet community drew blood from domain services provider GoDaddy for its [brief] public declaration of support for SOPA, the Stop Internet Piracy Act, now before Congress. That community lit up on the issue last week. Many organizations and individuals began moving their domains to other service providers and December 29th was declared Boycott GoDaddy Day; the day people were to transfer domains — en masse — to other anti-SOPA domain providers. GoDaddy responded quickly, going “neutral” on its SOPA stance.
It can be argued that once the ball started rolling, mob mentality took over. The Internet loves a good dust up. Bob Ledrew aptly referred to it as a Social Media Spasm, which became the title of our latest episode of PR and Other Deadly Sins. We also discussed what made the boycott effective and ineffective, and how it compared to the oft-analyzed Occupy Movement.
So, what story does the online activity tell us about the GoDaddy-SOPA issue and planned boycott? (Analysis performed using Sysomos MAP)
First of all, the issue spiked on December 22, the day Reddit user SelfProdigy posted about GoDaddy’s support of SOPA. Traffic dropped substantially over Christmas and recovered only slightly on December 29th, yesterday.
Not surprisingly, Twitter was the most active channel.
I monitored traffic yesterday and, anecdotally, observed that a majority of traffic was meta or noise. That is, most of the Tweets I observed promoted the boycott, linked to articles about the boycott or trash-talking tweets of little substance (such as BigRickz10′s tweet which read “#GoDaddy #gofuckyourself #nuffsaid”). Without actual numbers to support me, I would argue that well over 70% of traffic fell into that category.
Additionally, most traffic was RTs, the amplifier effect, which can easily turn signal into noise and noise into complete static.
A very small number of participants contributed more than one tweet to the chatter.
And most are considered to have low authority on Twitter (measured by considering a number of factors including size and level of engagement of the user’s community).
Not surprisingly, most of the traffic originated in the United States, followed by China, the UK, Canada, Australia and other countries led (in no particular order) by Spain, India, Indonesia, Russia and France.
And for those of you who like to see Word Clouds of commonly used terms, this is what the conversation looked like.
Given that GoDaddy is the registrar of 50 million domain names, it would be very difficult to hurt the company’s bottom line. The movement clearly wanted to make an example of GoDaddy and I expect the buzz and boycott caused more embarrassment than any measurable financial pain. Like many other online PR crises, it was what I like to jokingly refer to as a two-cycle Tylenol crisis (two consecutive doses of Extra Strength Tylenol and the loss of a few hours sleep). Well, maybe this one was a four-cycle. :)
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the buzz and boycott was they finally drew a concise and clear statement from GoDaddy that it now opposes SOPA. And with that statement, a message to other SOPA-supporting companies they could be on the Internet’s radar.