I have now lived through three “snowpocalypses” in the past 12 months – two in DC last winter and one in Jersey last week. There are a few things I learned from my most recent brush with a “snowmaggedon,” and none of them have to do with global warming.
First, I hate shoveling. Second, snow is not as much fun now as it was when I was a kid and could stay home from school. Three, see reason number one. But in addition to these three lessons, the most surprising thing that I learned was that Twitter can remain the topic of conversation, even during a blizzard.
Naturally, the NYC tri-state media coverage last week centered around the blizzard. Justifiably, there was a lot of snow (20+ inches) and not much else was going on (especially after the Giants all but blew their chances of making the playoffs by getting crushed by Green Bay). However, amidst the constant discussion of snow accumulation and the obligatory news reporter standing in a drift to demonstrate how deep it was, there was an awful lot of talk about Twitter.
The first example of Twitter’s role in the storm was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg taking a beating for the lack of effort clearing the streets. Maybe it was the suspected union slowdown that was to blame, or perhaps the fact that the Mayor doesn’t seem to understand there are other boroughs besides Manhattan. Regardless, residents took to Twitter to air their complaints and Bloomberg’s image took a hit.
Then there was Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who promised his children a trip to Disneyworld and dared to be out of the state during the snow storm while the Lt. Governor was also on vacation. What if Delaware had invaded New Jersey, people?! The Governor’s response to the searing criticism that he was out of touch during the storm was, “Anybody can get me any minute of any day given the way we communicate now. Whether it’s by cell phone or text message or… Twitter for God’s sake.”
Finally, there was Newark Mayor Corey Booker who braved the snow with Smartphone and shovel in hand, answering the tweets of fellow Newarkers and helping to dig them out. His efforts brought him national attention and praise, not only in the Twitterverse, but also across mainstream media.
There were also plenty of other examples of common folk turning to Twitter during the first East Coast blizzard of the season.
It amazes me every time I see Twitter taking center stage in a big story. So you think leveraging Twitter for your organization’s communication strategy shouldn’t be a top priority? Think again. Twitter (and social media in general) is now an essential tool for communicating. It might even help you get your sidewalks cleared during the next Snoverload.
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