Friday, January 16, 2009

Trending on Twitter: Splash Landings and Fear of Flying

The miraculous “splash” landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15th provided further proof of the incredible power of Twitter and its relevance for not only delivering news as it happens, but also connecting people during moments of high drama. Fortunately it was all good news this time, unlike Mumbai where on-the-spot tweeters kept us holding our breath as the attacks unfolded.

Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River during my Intro to Media Relations class and Centennial College – and coincidentally while we discussed the influence the Internet and social media tools are having on traditional PR and marketing. The conversation included Twitter, and we logged on without knowing about the drama unfolding in New York. I sent a message inviting my Twitter followers to say hi to my PR students. Almost immediately, I got this tweet:

Hi @TORONTO_PR_GUY 'S class :) Show them the power of Twitter - plane crash 1 hr ago - pictures up right away -

The link provoked a gasp from my class – click it and you’ll see why. I couldn’t have asked for a better real-time demonstration of Twitter at work.

The “Miracle on the Hudson” as captured on Twitter had another unintended lesson – illustrating how Adwords work. The program is set up to match keywords being searched with related advertising which can be dropped into a particular page. Searching the word “Hudson” on Twitscoop showed the class all of the tweets being sent in real time referring to the plane crash. Prominently displayed with the search results, however, was this:

Terrified of Turbulence? Sleep Like a Baby Your Next Flight – Guaranteed Cure! and Dr. Singha’s Travel Tonic: An amazing all natural remedy for nausea, travel anxiety and much more.

It made me feel a little queasy – and showed us that sometimes adwords do collide inadvertently. Who wants to see fear of flying ads while reading about a plane crash? Or was that the strategy? It got us thinking here at Agito about what selection of key words produced the ads, and whether it was intentional or one of those things that happen when various search terms come together. What do you think? Did the ads appear by chance or design? Ever had a similar incident where keywords you bought had you showing up where you least expected or wanted?