The Power of Social Media

I grew up in a little town called Bethany in Connecticut.  It’s so small that they’ve only had their own zip code for about fifteen years, and there’s a regional system for the middle and high schools.  It was a great place to grow up – and it’s still a great place according to my college friend, Jack Nork, who lives there now with his family. I love reading Jack’s posts on Twitter because it astounds me that little Bethany has a robotics club at the elementary school.  Or that all classrooms have computers.  Modern! Bethany is modern!

At the regional high school, Amity, every year they have a show called POPS.  It’s pretty much a variety show – akin to a cabaret.  They had it when I was a student there, and the tradition continues.  It’s an honor to be in the POPS concert, and it’s even more of an honor to host it.

Here’s where the social media part comes in.  A few hours before the concert, my friend Jack, whose wife teaches at the high school, posted that he was excited to attend the concert.  He used the hashtag #POPS.  Apparently the concert was trending.

I replied on Twitter (where my handle is @TokyoWriter, btw) that I was jealous – I miss POPS.  I remembered to use the hashtag.

Jack replied, using the hashtag, about POPS even having a following in Japan.

That’s where it got silly.  Apparently, there was a running topic list behind the announcers of POPS – anytime the hashtag would be used, it would live-scroll.  Throughout the concert.  Every now and then, the announcers would read out the more interesting tweets.

Well, they read out my tweet, according to Jack!  He tweeted me later telling me that I had been IN the POPS concert, technically.  For the second time – since my best friend Betsy and I sang “My Guy” with a really cute little dance and matching outfits our senior year.

So there you have it – the power of social media.  Someone in Japan watching a hashtag via a friend from college who now lives in her little hometown participates in a concert at a regional high school.

It’s a tiny little world.

The Effect of Social Media

On Twitter, I follow a few luxury travel “tweeple” – those involved in the industry, I mean.  (Not that I take luxurious trips, but a girl can dream!) On Saturday I saw a Tweet from one woman who was Re-Tweeting a man in New York’s tweet.  (For those of you who don’t know what I mean, on Twitter, the art of the Tweet is in the re-tweet – putting someone else’s status out there to elevate yours.)  Twitter is like Facebook, but just status updates, all in 140 characters or less.  It’s much more dialectic than Facebook, also – you can converse with others via various statuses.  It’s expected, and it works well.

The Re-tweeted tweet said something like, “Ew, found dead bug when I unfolded the bath mat at the NYC Marriott Marquis.”

I checked a few profiles, and the original guy who sent the tweet out there into the “Twitterverse” has 6182 followers – that’s more than six thousand people who have access to what this guy is saying.  I think I’m pretty cool at more than 400, but I am nothing in comparison.

But get this: the woman who re-tweeted his info has 16,859 followers.   Holy Moly!  Now there are sixteen thousand more people who know that the Mariott Marquis has an insect issue.

Are you getting the drift here?  We don’t know how many more people besides that one re-tweeted the initial tweet.  Maybe a bunch of the woman’s 16,000 followers re-re-tweeted it.  We’ll never know the far reaches of the lore of the infestation.

After seeing that, who is going to go to the Marriott Marquis this weekend?  I think the Sheraton a few blocks uptown will have a few extra guests until the potential hype wears off.  It’s hype created by a small reality, but it’s pretty small nonetheless.  I am not faulting the tweet, or the tweet-er.  He was reporting the truth.  What I’m doing is marveling over the potential power of one tweet.

This is the true use and intention of social media: power to the people.  Now let’s all get out there and use our power for good.