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Snowpocalypse 2011 is Perfect Storm for Social Media

Originally Posted on Author's Blog

The Blizzard of 2011 became the perfect case study in how social media works.

Just like making a cake, here are 3 ingredients that made for a perfect social media storm:

 

Ingredient 1: The Event (the stage)

A blizzard turns out to be a great event and catalyst for sharing.  It's national & hyper local news at the same time.  We're all a part of it and most importantly it drastically effects our normal routine.  Work's closed, schools, churches & meetings are closed, things are different and this gives focus & context to the very scattered internet.

Ingredient 2: Connection

It's the Connectivity of the Channels that gets things really snowballing.  The behaviour is the same, WE WANT TO SHARE.  Twenty years ago we'd have all been calling our friends and family on the phone or heading to the local pub to watch the news with friends.  Social Media has just allowed us a way cleaner & wider way to connect.  Facebook messages being shared on Twitter, Foursquare check-ins being shared through mobile alerts, News updates from 100 sources being thrown back into the loop in 100 different channels, all people powered.

 

Ingredient 3: Content

Social Media needs fuel to run and content is what powers that engine.  Not only does social media give us the ability to share, but to share in extremely creative & abundant ways.  Pictures, videos, charts, cartoons, you name it, you can share it and do it extremely fast. 

 

EXAMPLES:

Snowpocalypse Super Swarm Badge on Foursquare-

Foursquare is a social geo-location tool that lets people check-in to their current location via mobile and share tha location with friends.  It's built with a small game engine that let's people earn virtual "badges" for checking into certain places at certain times with certain people.

The Super Swarm Badge is one of those badges.  It's a very tough badge to get, as you need to check into the same place at the same time with 250 other people. 

The jury's out on who started it, but around 5pm I began seeing a few check-ins for Foursquare via twitter & by 8pm, the mesage was being spread through a multitude of tools and media & I joined in and today Jeffisageek was being interviewed by the KCStar about the incident.

The Blizzard was still the stage, and the game for the badge was just another fun way to join in and connect with people as the blizzard raged on.

430 people checked in

60 pictures of the storm uploaded from all accross the city.

100s of messages distributed through twitter, facebook, foursquare & email to spread the word.

 

Infographics

There were hundreds of pictures of dogs playing in the snow, a heep of video footage of stuck cars & a cubic ton of Facebook & Twitter updates, but what I'm most impressed with are the few that create their own media just in time to catch all the full power of the social storm in their sails and get their creation carried throughout the web.  (I think I was just trying to say viral)

Chris Riebschlager from The816.com put together this graph today, that has already made it to many of KC's top blogs and all through local lines in Facebook & Twitter.  You see Chris a lot on this blog, as he has a real knack of creating topical media that has a high viral potential.  Check out his latest Angry Birds video.

 

 

My favortie weather guru, Ed Roberts from kcweather.org also brought in a great entry that got a lot of exposure.  Again, on point, entertaining, & super shareable.

 

 

MARKETING LESSON LEARNED:

Events like this get us marketers all worked up.  This is the stuff that we wish we could bottle and uncork in times of need.  The lesson learned here is don't try to create or own the event.  Too many brands want to make their own blizzard and wonder why they didn't even see a flake drop.  The trick is joining and being part of the conversation and riding the wave like the examples above.  The tough part is timeliness, but that's for another blog.

Have more examples?  Please share!

 

 

 

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