The tweet caught my eye: “Don’t support The Weather Channel by calling this storm Nemo.” But I liked that name, and so did thousands of tweeters who tucked #Nemo into their 140-character updates. While not intended as the cute Nemo fish of Disney/Pixar movie fame, the name lent some unintended levity to what was promising to be a historic storm, and #Nemo built community among those dealing with or watching the storm (“We may have found #Nemo,” tweeted one person, “Take that #Nemo!” tweeted another shoveling out of two feet of snow). For The Weather Channel, the flurry of support and displeasure with the #Nemo name was a PR win for the network.
Like thousands of people, I preferred to use Nemo in references to the storm when family and friends were checking in because it’s good to put a name to an event, isn’t it? It makes you feel part of something bigger. Kudos to The Weather Channel: from a social media communications standpoint, not having a hashtag associated with your big event is like writing a book and not giving it a title.
The Weather Channel giving the storm a name is more credible than, say, Starbucks or Zappo’s floating the #Nemo hashtag. The Weather Channel has some cred when it comes to, um, weather stuff.
And so what that the (government-run) National Weather Service had nothing to do with the storm naming and refused to use it? And so what that the true definition of Nemo for this storm is the Latin equivalent of “nobody” and in Greek means “from the valley”? This was neither a “nobody” snowstorm nor from the valley, but The Weather Channel’s social media department wanted to use Greek names — and the letter “N” was the next one up.
Bryan Norcross, a meteorologist at The Weather Channel, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that he and his team created a series of #hashtag names for upcoming storms because “Everything needs a hashtag to get noticed.” The Weather Channel definitely got noticed, and Disney’s “Finding Nemo” might even see a slight spike in DVD sales. I call that #Winning.
– Diane Schwartz