When we last left guest blogger Katie Sweeney, she had just invited Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter to shovel her sidewalk via Twitter. Join Katie and me for the exciting conclusion about how Twitter connects and influences real people in real life.
“Jarring” is how I’ll describe seeing my name appear in a Tweet from a celebrity, even one whom I’ve just addressed. But there it was, a retweet of my invitation to Mayor Nutter with a vague acknowledgment that he’ll “try” but also asking which block I lived on. If the conversation ended there, he probably could have counted a happier resident. People want to know they’re being heard, and he’s out there trying, folks.
But things were just getting started. Within five minutes I had a new follower and a request to direct message the mayor my phone number. Minutes later I was chatting with one of his people who asked what we had going on outside on the street. This is where I sort of started feeling bad because surely there were worse streets in Philadelphia, and we’re a pretty hardy crowd. Although it is a small street, and we do usually shovel it out ourselves, I told him, because equipment doesn’t usually make it down. “Get a bunch of people out there helping and we’ll be there in 10 minutes” the voice on the other end of the phone told me.
When Mayor Nutter arrived some 20 minutes later (wearing a Temple hat and what appeared to be creased snowpants) he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of residents, citizens and voters. I thrust out my hand with an introduction and a thank-you, which he upgraded to a hug. The mayor shoveled snow for a good 30 minutes, while his team of handlers found a clear spot on the sidewalk to continue conducting business, safety and logistics. Ahhh, the Tweeter, no doubt.
Aside from the benefits from his personal interactions with the people on my street, Mayor Nutter’s visit also generated a bit of traction and goodwill in the social sphere. While it would be impossible to measure the exact reach, there were 21 mentions with my Twitter handle & Mayor Nutter’s in the same message, plus 15 or so more from people in my stream following the story and commenting back. Social media experts tout “authenticity”, but I believe this is a successful case when team members can effectively use the channel to connect the Person with the people.
Quietly, the team passed the signal that it was time to move on to the next location. But before leaving, Mayor Nutter posed for cameraphone pictures, chatted with us about the storm, our neighborhood, Philly sports and accepted our invitation to return for our summer block party.
Throughout his visit, we never felt he was just making an appearance – the man was truly there to work; not only did he leave us a clear(er) street, he left behind a pretty great impression.
Katie Sweeney is a freelance writer. Follow her random observations and invitations on Twitter at www.twitter.com/k8iedid.
Editor’s note: This was a blast (thank you, Katie). I mean, I’m having a real Ira Glass moment here, in a good way. Presenting my own stories and observations is fun. Presenting other folks’ is even more so.
So if you have a story about, well, storytelling and changing peoples’ minds, hit me up in the comments and we’ll talk.