Ideas, insights and inspirations.

Depending on what part of the world you call home, you probably have a different reaction to the name, “Debby.”  It’s a perfectly beautiful name, and we even have a few hard-working Debbies here at Elliance.  But, when a storm by the same name rolled through the Gulf of Mexico last weekend, my perspective changed.

I’m from Pittsburgh.  And, when I moved to Florida in 2008, the humidity and gigantic bugs were the only bad parts, really, besides missing my friends and family.  Weathering my first serious tropical storm, though, made the bugs seem (almost) tolerable.

The Bay area, where I live, was hit particularly hard by Tropical Storm Debby.  St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Clearwater endured between 10 and 16 inches of rain over a two-day period.  There was (and still is in some places) massive flooding.  Winds and surf were high enough to shut down three of our four major bridges.  Numerous tornadoes left millions of dollars in damage.  It certainly made me more aware of the price we have to pay to live in the middle of paradise.

It also gave me the chance to reflect on how critical social media platforms can be in situations like these.  I’d typically be sharing with you some reasons for – and advice on – optimizing Twitter to benefit your search campaign.  But, today I’m looking at things as a Twitter user, and I thought I’d share a positive and negative example of what I saw during Debby on Twitter accounts I follow.

First, the good: Bay News 9.  It’s not the news program that I watch most often, but for whatever reason, I think their weather coverage is the best.  So, I went straight to them when the weather took a turn for the worse on Sunday.  Their website was, of course, packed with coverage of the storm; they even had a live blog dedicated to Debby throughout the weekend.  It was frequently down, though – most likely due to very high traffic volumes – and, our satellite cable was all but useless most of the weekend.  So, I turned to Twitter.  Their @bn9weather and @bn9 Twitter accounts were what I relied on for updates throughout the two worst days of the storm.  In fact, I had their Twitter feed up on my phone, ready to head for a closet at certain times Sunday evening.  These were the tweets that sent me there:

Tyrone Mall is about 12 blocks from our house, and we knew that particular cell had already touched down a number of times in nearby Pass-a-Grille.  We were lucky that we weren’t hit.

I could go on and on, but it was just awesome, life-saving coverage of where the storms were headed (and when).  There were so many ‘rotations’ at some points that I can’t imagine how many people they must’ve had, behind the scenes, getting the information out to the public and answering people’s questions.  I’m grateful.

Now, onto the bad.

I’m, admittedly, a huge fan of Crate & Barrel.  It’s my favorite store, no contest.  I love to cook and could easily spend an entire afternoon in any of their stores.  I follow both the Pittsburgh and Tampa stores on Twitter.  Here’s what the Tampa store’s last two tweets look like:

I could realistically criticize a lot of things here: their lack of interaction with followers, their infrequent and uninspired tweets.  In fact, a lot of times I feel like I could tweet about my insane love for Crate & Barrel better than they can.  I could also point out how there’s a misspelling at the end of that most recent tweet (“devine?”).  Instead, I’ll focus on the fact that Crate & Barrel Tampa, a store that’s literally only a few blocks from really devastating flooding, didn’t even get the name of the tropical storm right.

It’s Debby.  Not Donna.

And even now, two days later, this hasn’t been taken down or corrected (or even noticed?).  Is someone tweeting from a corporate C&B location that’s out of touch with what’s gone on?  Or, does this person just not pay attention to – or care about – what’s happening in the community?  I’m not sure.  But, it’s sure a great case study for twitter best practices (or, lack thereof) and how not to grow a relationship with a city that’s just been through a lot.

In the spirit of not ending on a bad note, though… I’ve seen such inspiring cooperation and genuine caring over the past week that my heart is full.  Our sunshine is back, St. Pete.  And, you’re more beautiful than ever.

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