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Does Your Brand Register on the Richter Scale?
By: Ted Curtin
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Just about everyone on the east coast north of Atlanta felt yesterday’s moderate 5.8 magnitude earthquake. Depending on what floor of a building you were on, that could have been anywhere from very scary to deeply unsettling. If you were outdoors, maybe it was just incredibly disorienting. Either way, there was little doubt — things were shaking! But more powerful than the tremor was the incredible force that followed.

That secondary force wasn’t an aftershock or subsequent quake (there is a difference) but rather the unprecedented wave of social media activity that rocked the Internet faster than any news media outlet or government agency could even dream of spreading the word. Being at a social media conference, I admit I was guilty of tweeting before thinking about shelter. Clearly, I wasn’t alone!

According to Twitter, within 60 seconds of the quake centered outside of Richmond, VA, there were more than 40,000 earthquake-related Tweets posted. Reaching a TPS (tweets per second) rate of 5,500 quake posts per second, tweets from yesterday’s event exceeded Bin Laden’s death and matched the tweet rate for the Japanese quake this past March, according to Bianca Bosker of The Huffington Post.  Yahoo News reported that the term “earthquake” appeared in Facebook status updates for almost 3 million U.S. users in less than 4 minutes.

Some suggest that news of the quake travelled faster than the actual shock waves themselves. True? Maybe not, but it has to make you wonder. Interestingly enough, look at the common theme between this event and anything else worth sharing:
  • Shared Experience — Nothing unites people more than a common experience — think customer service or product reviews (good or bad).
  • Quest for Information — Talk about a vacuum; if you weren’t on social media or didn’t get a panicked call or text from your significant other, you were the last to know.
  • Passion/Enthusiasm — Our friends on the west coast may have been laughing at the panic, but this was a first for most people that felt it (the last quake this big, in this area, was in 1897 (according to the USGS).
This new media swarm wasn’t created or promoted by an army of USGS field technicians, broadcast media, or mega marketing machine. This was you, me, and millions of other new media publishers sharing information and interests at the speed of NOW with reach and frequency far greater than any ad campaign or marketing initiative. If that’s not a wakeup call to start harnessing the awesome power of social media to help spread your company’s message, engage your customers, and build enthusiasm for your brand, what is?

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About the Author
Ted Curtin is a recognized strategic marketing leader with over 22 years experience covering online and offline marketing channels. Follow him on Twitter or at TedCurtin.com
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