Community Driven Hashtag Tells the #memstorm Story

April 27th, 2011   •   no comments   

Over the past 48 hours, Memphis and the South has been hit with some pretty bad weather including hail, straight-line winds, torrential rain (almost 6 inches) and destructive tornados.  It was so bad last night that @jimcantore himself decided to go to Tupelo instead.  The weathermen and women of Memphis have had no sleep along with most of us who have spent some time in the closets and basements while the sirens wail.  Not a pretty picture–and certainly a crisis for a community, especially when tornadic activity spins it’s evil path of destruction. 

Once again, our community used the hashtag #memstorm to communicate the latest news and report real time information during the potentially deadly event.  #Memstorm has been brewing for awhile and was tested a few months ago (see earlier blog post at  during similar storms in our community.  I’d like to point out that this idea came from an event at Emerge Memphis by Aaron Prather and Rachel Smith.  It was a grassroots effort to unite our community into one stream, one conversation.  All you have to do is look at Japan, Lybia, etc to see how hashtags can play a key role in creating a stream full of vital information–sometimes a matter of life and death. 

Aaron Prather (CEO of @stiQRd)  sent me this report:

“At the height of #memstorm on Tuesday night, impressions reached 1.4 million with over 200,000 twitter accounts being reached.  This resulted in 0.01% of all  tweets on twitter being tagged with #memstorm.  Of all the #memstorm tweets recorded since Monday (more than 2,000) 68% have been original posts, 25% were retweets and 7% were @ messages.” 

Wow, the true power of community involvment is electrifying.  For Aaron, #memstorm is now very much owned by the community which is what he hoped for when he launched the idea.  He has also proposed #memtraffic for traffic updates and thanks to Channel 3 and 5 who use this in the mornings.  I am hearing people now say they check that first thing in the morning to see where the wrecks are.  This is siginficant because it provides a single, real-time source for valuable information.  It also allows anyone to participate and have a voice.  Let’s face it, mobil to web is here and it’s not going away.  Anyone can report news.  The picture here tells the story.  As Aaron says, “this is not only citizen journalism, but community journalism.”  I love this!

Of the 500 tweets measured during the storm last night, here’s what the report showed as far as ranking of tweeters:

1. ericlipford3: 41

2. howellmarketing: 20 (yeah, I tweet alot)

3. memphisweather1: 20

4. canesdrew: 20

5. wregweather: 12

6. 3onyourside: 10

7. actionnews5: 9

8. kelltay: 9

9.stevegiglio: 8

10. alysdrake: 8

Kudos to Channel 3 and 5.  The numbers tell the story and this was just from 500 tweets.  It would be interesting to run the full report.  The key point here is that social media is trackable.  For brands, that means talking a lot online can really impact the bottom line.  In a crisis or community event, the power of using a hashtag is almost scary to me.  I tweet “the power of the hashtag” sometimes and it’s funny how often it gets a RT. The other point I’d like to politely make is this: the hashtag belongs to the “community”–not me, not Aaorn, not a PR firm, not any one media outlet.  It belongs to us all.  Further, the more we all engage in a single, united stream, the better chance we have to get important information fast.  In a crisis especially.  I know this has been a great example of how a community can use Twitter to tell a story.  Our #memstorm hashtag went around the world.  Think we can do more for Memphis with this concept? You bet we can.  Thanks for reading this and please feel free to share!

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