“Blowing up Twitter wasn’t on my list for today,” according to a Facebook post by Fort Worth District 8 Councilman Joel Burns.
But that was exactly what he went on to do last Monday, when he used the popular social media site to lodge a complaint with The Weather Channel.
It seems that The Weather Channel’s iPhone application was associating photos of Dallas with Fort Worth, a sore subject for many Fort Worthians who believe that the very distinctive cities are too often conflated.
Burns expressed his discontent, and thanks to the velocity of the Internet age, his grievance was immediately acknowledged with a snarky reply, a common tool among Twitter users.
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That’s when it began.
In what has been an unusually dry spring, the Fort Worth social media storm of the season unleashed its fury, ironically, on the people who report the weather.
Although, the Weather Channel had issued an apology within hours of the initial comment, the exchange had already prompted Burns, an anti-bullying advocate, and a torrent of supporters and followers to employ another tool of the Twittersphere: a hashtag campaign.
For the Twitter illiterate, a hashtag is a word or unspaced phrase prefixed with the number sign that tags metadata on social networking sites. In practical terms, hashtags group and connect messages on trending topics.
And on Monday, posting photos of Fort Worth’s many beautiful sights along with the hashtag “#THISisFortWorth” was the trendy thing to do.
By the end of the day (and in the days that followed), residents had peppered the Internet with depictions of their beloved city, and Burns had secured a donation from the Weather Channel to two charities he supports, as well as a commitment from the network to do a better job of providing city-specific photos in its app.
Fort Worth’s dizzying week of social media prominence has taught Twitter users, and non-users, some very important lessons.
First, social media can be a powerful tool when put to good use.
Second, it usually pays higher dividends to be not only responsive, but polite.
And finally, it’s best not to mess with Fort Worth.