Benjamin Franklin said, “There are the few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen, and the overwhelming majority who have no idea what happens.” Clearly, he did not live in the age of Social Media.   Today, we all make the news, we watch it in real time, and we know what is happening.    

Case in point: Last week, there was a small earthquake in Rockville, MD. I learned about it on the morning news. The “proof” for the newspeople was the Tweeps tweeting from around the county.  I texted my sister-in-law in Rockville who verified that the earth shook at 5 am.  She added, “I thought it was a terrorist attack.”  I then followed the hashtag #Rockville on Twitter and read several tweets that said exactly the same thing.   

Perhaps you want to argue that it was the earthquake that “made” the news. But I would argue that it was the uses on Twitter, all with the same observation that made the news, spread the word, and presumably knew what happened.   

If no one had felt it and no one tweeted about it, it would have been a non-event reported by some boring geologist on page B 11 of the local newspaper. Twitter MADE the earthquake a news event.   If you have ever doubted the burgeoning power of social media, stop doubting and start updating.    

The marketer in me has seen the power of Twitter up close and very personal.  If you have a compelling topic and can generate a lot of tweets, you can start a movement.  But a word of caution: The cynic in me is now watching #Rockville, #Derwood, and #Earthquake to see when the “terrorist attack” theory starts to creep into the conversation.     I bet I’m not alone.  Marketers need to be prepared for this kind of backlash, be it cynicism or negative reactions.  So, as always, have a Plan B.  

Author: Marcia Finberg