The Storm Lurking Around Social Media

Posted by on Nov 24, 2010 in Blog, Internet

The date was November 23rd, 2010. It started out just like any other day. Little did I know that the day would end up altering my view of social media forever. Ok, that was slightly dramatic. I’ve always known that social media could and has been used for eee-v-i-l (think Mike Myers) or as a platform for blowing things out of proportion from time to time, but I had never seen the rumor mill spin so quickly as on this day.

It started for me when my wife warned me that a storm was coming. I live in Utah, a state known for, or at least claimed by license plates, as “The Greatest Snow on Earth”. It snows here. A lot. I didn’t think much of it at the time.

A few hours later I checked Facebook and Twitter. One weather man in the area had referred to the oncoming blizzard as the “biggest storm in 7 years” which quickly turned into “the biggest storm of the century”. Obviously, the locals ate this up and went to town blogging, Hootsuiting, Woofing, etc. Soon, THE BLIZZARD was the only topic of conversation online and at the work place in Utah.

By noon things had escalated even further before a single cloud was visible. Warnings were issued. Flights were canceled. Roads were shut down. Schools sent out closing notices. Remember this is Utah, a place where nothing has ever shut down for snow in the 12 years I’ve lived here, unlike other places I’ve lived where a single flake shut down the city for days. The next thing I know my company sends out an email stating that we are expected to go home early and get a late start the following morning as a safety precaution. THANK YOU INTERNET.

From Antoine Dodson to the Old Spice Youtube videos, we’ve all enjoyed content that went viral. In most cases, it’s content intended for a good laugh – for entertainment. Most people reading this have used social networks for years, but some of us forget that we are early adopters. Do you remember when Twitter was almost exclusively tech talk? If you could filter out all of the spam we’d see all kinds of conversations on Twitter now. I’ve got some great lists setup where I get more timely news for marketing, sports, etc than the traditional news platforms could ever provide. I’m constantly surrounded by internet junkies so I expect friends and coworkers to know the lastest meme. My mom on the other hand has rarely been influenced by social media, except for the occasional email forward, until word of the end of humanity blizzard hit her on FB. (Note to self – make snopes.com her home page the next time I stop by). The number of people registering for social networks is still off the charts. The influence that SEOs and other marketers have claimed social media had is finally here – a few years later than many expected, but here.

By the way, for those of you not in Utah, there didn’t end up being a storm of any signifigance.

Does anyone else out there have any examples to share of when social blew something way out of proportion?

How have you seen social media used for eee-v-i-l?

How have you seen social evolve over the past few years?