The Boston Globe uses Twitter during a crisis


Quickly disseminate accurate information to the public during a breaking news event


In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) turned to Twitter to report from the field on a fast-changing story that affected millions in its city


  • As the public turned to the @BostonGlobe for updates from the scene, its Twitter mentions skyrocketed, from hundreds a day to hundreds of thousands
  • By the end of the week, @BostonGlobe’s follower count had increased by 224%
  • Most importantly, @BostonGlobe’s activity and visibility on Twitter ensured that people in Boston and around the world knew what was going on and could communicate with reporters on scene


Use Twitter to get breaking news out as quickly and accurately as possible.


@BostonGlobe was on the story within minutes of the explosions on April 15. The two bombs went off within seconds of each other at 2:48 pm ET, and by 2:57 pm the Globe had tweeted a concise account of events.

The Globe followed up two minutes later with a slightly more detailed Tweet.

When the events occurred, many Globe staff members were either running in the marathon or covering it, and they immediately snapped into action, live-tweeting what was happening around them. The Globe newsroom already had a list of its reporters in place that it used to monitor incoming Tweets through TweetDeck. These Tweets were fed into the paper’s live blog of the event, which was the most-visited page on their website after the bombing and during the manhunt. Even when the homepage went down temporarily, staff said they used Twitter as a vital way to share information with readers.

But it was a two-way process, with Globe staff harvesting Tweets for nuggets of news they could verify and report too. @BostonGlobe retweeted updates from non-staff members on the ground in Boston, including @bostonpolice and its bureau chief of public information, @CherylFiandaca.

The Globe had normally tweeted around 40 times a day. Over the next few hours on April 15, they sent over 150 Tweets, including article links, photos and videos.

That pace was sustained over the next few days as the bomb investigation turned into a manhunt and the Boston area went into lockdown. In the midst of a deluge of information over that week, the Globe remained a credible channel of news, sifting through reports to highlight verified and important information. The Globe used Twitter as a news distribution channel tweeting a lot — and retained and enhanced its credibility. This increased mentions of its content.

In turn, more and more people started to follow the Globe.

Key takeaways

  1. @BostonGlobe tweeted often with a collection of updates, article links, photos and videos.
  2. The Globe turned to Twitter for tips from non-staff members.
  3. Twitter was the exclusive source of news when the Globe’s website went down temporarily.