There have been numerous stories over the last couple of years on how Twitter and other social media outlets have enabled communication between people in less than desirable conditions. Last month, Seattle, WA (Projectline’s HQ), experienced the snowy wrath of Mother Nature when she gently laid a couple inches of snow on the ground, turned the thermostat below freezing, and blew wind at highway speeds.
Now, if you’re not from Seattle, you might not think that a couple inches of snow is that bad, but in Seattle, it can be devastating. As you would expect, social media was right there in the thick of it.
Twitter was one of the key social media outlets. The main Twitter hashtag (hashtags are words used to categorize tweets) of the winter storm was #snOMG. Right before and as the storm hit, Twitter was alive with conversation about the storm with people tagging their tweets with #snOMG. From pictures of the white, fluffy stuff to reports of which roads were closed, Twitter was being used to distribute information.
Paolo Mottola was stuck on I-5 for 10.5 hours attempting to travel the 35 miles from Seattle to Tacoma. In that time, through Twitter, he amassed quite the following of people interested in the happenings of the stopped traffic on the interstate. Mainstream media even took notice of his tweets. That is the power of social media. The quick and easy flow of information allows people to gain information they may not have been able to figure out otherwise and in this case, it often helped people to find safer roads to travel on.
The Social Media Ecosystem
Twitter was but one outlet for cold Seattleites to turn to. Somebody even created a location on Foursquare, a location based social network, which let people check-in at the winter storm to make it official that they were really there. Youtube had tons of videos of people sledding, cars sliding, and kids playing. Facebook statuses were updated, pictures posted, and comments made. Social media came alive when people needed to connect with other people.
Think of Social Media
Next time there is a major weather emergency happening, don’t forget to check out social media. Many people publish firsthand information that might be valuable. Remember to update the social media websites you use so others might find the information helpful. Until next time, stay safe and stay social.
Picture by Chuck Taylor and licensed under Creative Commons.