The largest hurricane since 1987, St Jude’s wasn’t the only power setting off a storm this week: Twitter enthusiasts unleashed a gale force of their own around the strong winds.
Corporate tweets are often swamped by those of individuals, but when it comes to credible information, corporate data blows public opinion out of the water. The BBC (@bbcweather) was ranked both second and third as the most influential twitter account out of thousands of other UK users. Shortly followed by competitors Sky News (@ skynewsbreak) and ITV news (@itvnews).
In the eye of the storm, some Twitter users turn to specialised advice or services: National Rail Enquiries (@nationalrailenq) was ranked as the sixth most influential twitter account, with live travel news updates and warnings. Meanwhile, the Met Office (@metofficestorms) ranked seventh. Many users shared office weather forecast data via Twitter, but added their own opinion to it. Again, with 1059 tweets, The BBC ranked top of the table for the most popular weather story.
Despite the storm, this cloud had a silver lining for ‘spoof’ Twitter users. Of the top ten most popular users during the storm, four were spoof accounts.
The number one most influential Twitter resource during the storm was the spoof twitter account for Conservative MP, Iain Duncan Smith. With tweets such as ‘GOVERNMENT ADVICE: If your home is in the path of the storm, head to your second or third home for safety’ it seems the storm stirred a national political debate.
The BBC’s legendary weather forecaster, Michael Fish in addition to her Majesty the Queen were also caught in the gales.
The question the hurricane leaves behind us is, when people can access credible weather forecasts on corporate sites, why do they turn to social media to understand the storm? Is it because they have control over who they follow and therefore the information they wish to receive? Do we want to understand the storm through the eyes of others?