Social Media and the Snowpocalypse

Social media and the snowpocalypse

Digging out from under the ice.

One of Professional Mojo’s offices is in Douglasville, GA, right outside Atlanta. It’s probably no news to you, friends, that we have been in a deep freeze for almost a solid week. Our clients in Minnesota and Michigan may be prepared for something like this, but the state of Georgia? Not so much.

This snowpocalypse, as some have dubbed it, turned everything upside down. People were stranded on interstates, out of gas and out of food. Folks, like me, trapped in our homes, kids out of school for a week, power outages…you get the picture. Yet, in the midst of this, we have witnessed a perfect marriage: social media’s real-time communication and the public’s hunger for immediate information.

Here are a few of my take-aways about social media and the snowpocalypse:

  • Local, relevant information makes a difference: A good example of this is the Douglas County Happenings Facebook page. I’ve watched this page and it has been growing organically for some time, but not at a rapid rate. Thanks to the efforts of the folks there, it quickly became a clearinghouse of information for those in the local area. We may only be 30 minutes from Atlanta, but sometimes it seems like a million miles away, especially when the “major” outlets cover the larger counties. Community is essential in social media and this page delivered.
  • Community members expect answers – right now, please: If you are going to use any of the social media channels, be prepared for praise when you do well and for criticism when you don’t. Several pages did not have direct access to emergency divisions and were not able to provide quick answers. Even when they did have a direct line, decisions often take time. The people posting don’t want to hear excuses, they want to see answers. I saw a lot of frustration when answers weren’t immediately forthcoming. Most page admins did a good job of taking the snarks in stride. Others? Well, they snarked back, especially on the Twitter streams.
  • Multiple channels reach people where they are: 11Alive News did the best job of this throughout the snowpocalypse. I was impressed by their use of every available channel to distribute information to the widest audience possible. I interacted with them in the following ways:
    • Via their website where they posted DOT road updates, business closings, government closings, school closings and more
    • Via the live chat feature on their website, where I logged in and was able to ask questions, in real-time. I loved this, too, because I could see the ongoing stream from the other people in the room.
    • Via Twitter where they took questions, redirected folks to information and offered a steady stream of news.
    • Via Facebook where they continue to answer questions about mail, roads, heaters, and more.
    • Via their phone bank, which was the only one of its kind I saw during the snowpocalypse. Any one could call in and ask questions of the volunteers about weather, road closings, health issues, etc.
    • Via their ongoing newscast, which constantly reminded folks of every OTHER channel above.

In short, they did an extraordinary job of providing information in every way possible to meet the community where the community wanted to dialog. Me? I personally preferred Twitter and the chat room. My mom? She was stuck to Facebook.

If ever there was a time for social media, it is now. We were able to help our neighbors (because we saw them post), answer questions about the roads in our neighborhood, and offered route alternatives to people who ventured out.

We learned about how others were coping, played online games with people on the other side of the world, and dreamed of warmer days.

The warmer days aren’t quite here yet, but the community I feel in a city of 5 million is quite astonishing. All because we are connected in amazing ways via social media.

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