Meet @Irene. The Voice of Hurricane Irene.

Irene Tien, product strategist at HUGE, has owned the Twitter handle @Irene since 2006. So when people started tweeting @Irene in an attempt to communicate with Hurricane Irene, she responded:

Hurricane Irene Twitter

Apparently lots of people thought this was funny or interesting or informative, because by the next day she had amassed hundreds of retweets. Irene’s co-workers who run the company’s Twitter account took notice, pleaded with Irene to hand her account to them…and she reluctantly agreed.

And so @Irene the person became @Irene, the hurricane.

As the voice of the hurricane, they posted some funny tweets, and some informative. They responded to mentions and engaged in conversation about the hurricane.  Yet throughout it they remained tactful and engaging in a sensitive situation that had the potential to backfire.

But it didn’t backfire. Irene and her co-workers handled it perfectly. They didn’t use the opportunity to directly promote themselves (but I imagine they are enjoying, and anticipated, the aftermath PR). They showed their creativity and ability to react and execute quickly, which is essential for social media success. @Irene’s follower count grew to 11,000.

This is not a strategic social media case study with planned objectives and calculated return. But it is a fun and unique example of the power of social media changing the way we communicate, and how quickly an idea can spread.

Although the account is still open, @Irene the hurricane has been put to rest. The last tweet sent on August 28 was “Goodnight #Irene”. As of September 2, no activity from the account.

(Full story at WSJ.com.)

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