I've never been a Twitter fan. I haven't blogged about it or even mentioned it much because quite honestly, I found it to be an incredibly silly concept. (As if blogging hasn't allowed us to share far more about ourselves than anyone ever cared to know already.) I knew there was probably some really great use for Twitter, but I'd yet to see an example of it. Until today.
I was talking to my mother this morning and found out my brother and his wife are in the process of driving from their home outside of San Diego to Rhode Island. My brother is in the Navy and is in the process of transferring assignments. His wife is going with him to help him get settled in and then plans to fly back to San Diego to stay until she gets their house sold.
Unfortunately, the current wave of California wildfires is rapidly burning it's way toward their home. In fact, they learned just this morning that their neighborhood had been evacuated last night and the fire was about four miles away. Since they are in their car somewhere in Oklahoma, news of the wildfire isn't exactly easy to come by. They've been calling my mom about once an hour for updates and she's done her best to keep track of things.
One of the local television stations has been using a Google Maps Mash-up to show the progression of the fire. Last time we looked, the fire was now about two miles from their neighborhood.
That's when I noticed the information alongside the map. (Check out the screen shot)
Over there on the left there's a little notation saying the TV station is offering Twitter updates. (I've outlined it in red.)
I hopped on over to check out the Twitter coverage of the fires and it's pretty darn useful. There are notes on which neighborhoods are now being evacuated, notes about how many homes have been destroyed in certain areas, information on where the evacuation centers are and quite a bit more. For my brother and his wife, subscribing to this Twitter feed will give them quick and easy access to instant updates as they make their drive across the country.
Now THAT is good use of Twitter.
I couldn't care less what someone ate for breakfast this morning or what they think of the guy who just cut in front of them at the BMV...but use a feature like Twitter to give people the critical updates they need when they can't get to anything but their phone and you've got my interest.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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