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Sharknado Causes Rip Tide in Oklahoma, Across Social Media

Adam Ray Modified: November 19, 2013 at 11:20 am •  Published: July 12, 2013
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Sharknado Causes Rip Tide in Oklahoma, Across Social Media

sharknado riptide oklahoma red cross
sharknado riptide oklahoma red cross
The nation faced a new danger this week: an unprecedented disaster swept the west coast into a frenzy as a tornado over the ocean’s edge sucked up flesh-eating sharks and hurled them into the city of Los Angeles.

Okay, maybe this is just the plot to SyFy channel’s latest TV production, Sharknado, which debuted Thursday evening.  Although a fictional disaster, the “#sharknado” reception on Twitter appeared as if the freak storm had actually occurred.

 

SyFy’s Sharknado mentions on Twitter last night topped at over 5,000 tweets per minute at 10:58pm EST.  That’s almost 80 tweets per second.

Among the online buzz were some real organizations that used the Twitter trend as a marketing aid for real life disaster preparedness.  Our Oklahoma City chapter of the American Red Cross even garnered attention from CNN’s national newscast, whose anchor remarked with a chuckle, “Apparently the Red Cross Oklahoma also used [the movie] as an opportunity to warn people about real tornados, minus the man-eating sharks. “

I spoke with Christopher Sommer, Regional Communications Specialist of the American Red Cross Central and Western Oklahoma chapter, and asked a few questions about his #Sharknado strategy:

A.R: “Whose idea was this, and how did it evolve?  Was it a team effort?”

C.S. “I had been aware of the impending Sharknado movie after seeing much of the hype surrounding it. While sitting at home, I was watching the movie and I thought it would be worth a few laughs to start tweeting and using it as a venue to promote a good message about Oklahoma and disaster preparedness. I was a solo act here in Oklahoma with @redcrossokc, but come to find out, our Red Cross national headquarters team had the idea as well and it unfolded in a great way. Turns out, we at the Red Cross love a ridiculous movie just as much as the rest of the internet.”

A.R:  “What was your timeline?  Did you decide to pursue this at the ‘last minute’?”

C.S.  “There was some spontaneity involved. It really came together when I committed to watching the movie and decided to join in on the snark as I knew this was Academy Award winning material.”

A.R:  “What was the core purpose of your campaign, and how are you measuring its success?”

C.S: “My goal is to make the Red Cross in Oklahoma personable, relevant and engaging. We want people to know that it’s not just an organization; we are your neighbors, your friends, and your fellow Oklahomans. This was a great way to interact with people locally and across the world. I measure its success on if it was engaging to people in a positive way. We’ve been hit hard here in Oklahoma with the May 2013 storms and I love showing the world that we, as Oklahomans, can laugh about something like this because we are not defeated. We are strong and we are resilient and the world gets to see more of the Oklahoma Standard. We are still seeing the news stories and retweets.”

A.R:  “Did you use any social media software?  Like Sprout? Or Hootsuite?”

C.S: “For the Sharknado I only had my iPhone 5, the Twitter App and a sense of humor. We do use TweetDeck in the office to help us keep up with what’s going on around the state. For example, it was because of one person’s tweet that we were able to locate and provide assistance to an isolated community in Luther who had been hit by one of the tornadoes.”

If you missed the hype, the #sharknado hashtag is still trending this morning, remnants of the unforgettable nightmare we shared as an online community.

 

If you plan to hop onto a hashtag for your social media campaign, always be timely.  And don’t think your ideas through too much.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, a seemingly petty and meaningless Twitter trend could turn out to be your highway to social media mastery.

 
Some top tweets from @redcrossokc:



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