Sunday, March 01, 2009

March 1 Snow: Alabama's Big Twitter Event?

While the short-lived winter weather was not that unexpected here, it was fun to follow thanks, in part, to the Twitter technology.

I haven't gathered any statistics on the use on the microblogging tool. But, anecdotally if James Spann's (Meteorologist at Birmingham's ABC affiliate, WBMA-TV) followers jumped from about 1500 when he started cut-ins at 1 a.m. to 1662 now, that's an indication of just how many people are catching on to this combination of a e-mail and message boards.

Those with Twitter accounts could "follow" Spann and get his updates while also including a symbol "#bhamsnow" that Twitter uses to gather all the comments about this news event.

Like Spann indicated last night, the advantage is that it keeps everyone from being too long, but it also helps you keep up-to-date on what's happening.

I suppose if all of those people with information to share were your Facebook friends, then that would be the medium for this exchange.

With Twitter, I re-connected with all friends and met new people, whose blogs I checked out in the process.

For the last few years, the broadcast, cable and newspaper media have utilized the user-generated photographs as a big part of their coverage.

WMBA-TV's Flickr Photostream gathered more than 2,000 pictures. After a quick check of some of the other media, I think this is BIG WINNER for user-generated content.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showcased about 30 photos on its site.

Cross-promoting this element helps drive traffic to one's Web site.

While we had the consumer/citizen-driven today, we also have a community around this Twitter technology, a larger one than would probably have been found on a weathercentric Web site.

Some of those who might not read Spann's Weather Blog, will follow those who have something to say about the weather.

In some ways, the Twitter audience online could get things before the over-the-air audience. You were "behind the scenes" listening to Spann as he got ready to go on the air.

As we examine the role that microblogging plays in newsgathering, Alabama's Winter Storm of 2009 will provide an interesting case study. All one has to do is look at the "#bhamsnow" on Twitter.

No comments: