The Power of Social Media - Yes it really has power.
Ok so you've heard this phrase brandished around quite a bit. The 'power' of social media is often discussed, blogged about, and indeed tweeted and facebooked. So this may not come as a surprise to you.
Well just read on anyway, because this really is a powerful story about social media.
A few weeks ago, just after our first Twitter school, local business Hattton & Harding came a close 2nd in the Telegraph Small Shop Awards. Their success in this competition was largely down to their amazing shop and charismatic personalities, but also because of their brilliant Twitter support. From their nomination to the moment they announced the outcome, Twitter was with them every step of the way. So much so that Mary Portas, retail queen and host of the awards, noticed and checked out little old Warwick to see what we were all about. Mary was amazed by the phenomenal support Hatton & Harding were receiving from the strong and loyal Twitter community which was largely composed of WarwickTweetup members.
Mary Portas suggested Hatton & Harding should get Warwick on board with her Portas Pilot scheme. So they did. They sent a tweet out.
"Guys, she is really serious, she wants us to apply to be a pilot town."
A simple ask, and one that I myself decided had to be acted on. Being a social media fanatic, I hit Twitter and started to blog immediately. Why wait until tomorrow to do what you can tweet right now? Strike while the iron is hot. The first blog was written in 5 minutes, then proofed and posted. I pointed to it with a series of tweets, and the idea was off. Like a missile it flew around our Twitter community and enlightened everyone to the news that was breaking.
By the time David and Jerry set their heads down for the night, we had mobilised an army of support and the power of social media was hard at work. The blog reached 500 hundred views before the night was over, and everyone was on board - including the Mayor who saw the action unfolding on Twitter. The papers were informed (by Twitter naturally!) and they were ready to follow the story.
By morning, the council had heard.
Impressive? Well that's only the beginning.
Once the news was out, the offers started to come in:
"What can we do to help?"
"Can we offer our services?"
The arsenal of talent amongst WarwickTweetup members is so powerful that this was always going to be an easy task to mobilise. With the huge support network growing by the hour, the council and MP were quick to support us. They had no choice; we were not a group to shy away from making this happen ourselves!
The blog was soon redesigned by a WTU member who is a Designer. It was, and still is, proofed by another member who happens to be a Proofreader for a marketing agency. We soon had help from people with knowledge of town planning, individuals with links to marketing and media, and folk with contacts within large businesses in Warwick. I'm pretty sure that most if not all of the big movement in this campaign came via Twitter.
The story unfolded on the blog and in turn on Twitter. Every step was blogged, and people really bought into the story and embraced the passion behind it. Eventually those who are not even on social media started to hear about it. They joined in and supported us too. Many of them signed up to Twitter as well - conscious not to miss out on news again.
The media were not only contacted through social media networks, but also contacted me via Twitter and the blog. Newspapers, radio and then eventually TV were all alerted by the social media machine pumping away in the heart of Warwick. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed by Mary Portas either. As I write this she is still following me on Twitter, and she also very kindly tweeting our blog as an example of how to get a campaign off the ground.
We now have a great chance to make a successful proposal to the Portas Pilot committee, but perhaps more importantly we have connected a town together in a way that's never been seen before. What's more, we did it in a matter of minutes and all for free. Social media really does have some incredible power. Its power lies within its users - the connections you make can be strong and life-changing.
Never underestimate the power of a tweet or a blog. We have arguably achieved more in a few weeks than the town has achieved in years. Wielding the power of our network as a force for good, we march on, leading a medieval town into the 21st Century at a blistering pace.
There's a new Sheriff in town, in fact there are lots of them, and they're holding smartphones - the most powerful weapon Warwick has seen since the Trebuchet.
Thanks for reading.