The #Gwinnett Effect: Mastering Twitter One Outraged Student at a Time

The #Gwinnett Effect: Mastering Twitter One Outraged Student at a Time

On February 16, 2015, an unfortunate mix of rain and steadily dropping temperatures had Georgians north of Atlanta preparing for the worst. As evening drew near and ice began to form on trees, announcements of school closures for the following day began rolling in.

Gwinnett County public schools were not among them, even after the county was included in Governor Nathan Deal’s state of emergency declaration. In response, students took to Twitter to express their frustration.

It started small, but by nine that evening, the response had gained enough steam to rank second in trending topics on Twitter not just in the Southeast, but worldwide. The outrage didn’t die down quickly either; Gwinnett and #CloseGwinnett continued to trend on and off through Wednesday due to a forecast of subzero windchills.


The sudden popularity of a relatively unknown county in the American southeast had many Twitter users baffled. Some were irritated that their newsfeeds were clogged with tweets about such trivial topic, but most users were amused and even joined the cause, retweeting and using the hashtag to boost the students’ message.

The issue gained such attention that when Gwinnett finally announced it would be closing school on Tuesday due to inclement weather Local WSB news personality Jovita Moore chimed in on Twitter with a hashtagged nod to the fuss the students were making.

Of course, the official statement is that the tweet frenzy had no effect on the county’s decision to close schools on Tuesday, but the response the students got in such a short time is clear evidence of the power of social media. This small group of disgruntled students managed to reach at least 40 thousand people in just a few hours.

You may be wondering what the point of this story is. It’s this: social media is a tool that you need just as much as any of the other in your SEO toolbox. If Twitter can connect a small number of students Irritated about a snow day with tens of thousands of people, including news outlets, what can it do for you?

The specific reasons why the world took such notice of a little county in Georgia don’t matter as much as the fact that they did. So if you’ve ever doubted what social media could do for you, just remember #CloseGwinnett.

By: Victoria Vener
  • Samantha Torres

    It’s always awesome to see the power of social media at work. Thanks for taking note of this Victoria and reminding us of what social media channels can accomplish. Great post!

  • Joshua Bains

    I don’t think the large social media response forced the issue of closing the district. I think some administrator mentioned: “This is spreading all over Twitter!” And that helped it become part of a logical if not PR related discussion. I estimate this form of social media is a secondary form of persuasion. It’s power is to get people involved – but if it only stays online, the impact isn’t necessarily felt in the room when people are making a decision.

  • Elizabeth Weaver

    Cool article, Victoria! If nothing else, the outcry on Twitter got people talking. You’re exactly right – that’s what you’d want for your brand. To be talked about, and hopefully remembered. Always very interesting to see what trends on Twitter. Also cool to see that Gwinnett had a tiny moment of “fame,” although for a silly/ridiculous reason.

    Any tips for choosing a meaningful hashtag that will explode (in a good way)?

  • Kara Lane

    Victoria, this is a great example how social media can be beneficial in big ways! A single post may not cause a major change to important issues overnight, but in a way can cause small impacts that add to a larger picture. Social media can be a fantastic way to reach your audience!

  • Naima

    This is a great way of demonstrating the power of social media and how it can work for a certain purpose, which can be as simple as closing schools, or as complex as a business campaign.

  • John

    You make a great case, Victoria! Very interesting to see the effect that social media can have, especially on something so relatively small… Then again, this is the internet. For example, potato salad for $55,000:

  • Nathan Taitt

    One of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a while. Fantastic work! I had no idea that was going on. Love it!

  • Chuniq Inpower

    I had no idea this was going on around us!! I had a joy reading your article and this piece from the ATL Sun Times! The power of social media, especially at the hands of young people is powerful for spreading a message, whether one “meaningful” or otherwise can’t be ignored.

  • Rebekah Faucette

    This is just a small indication of the power of social media and teenagers as a whole. If this age group bands together under a common goal with such powerful tools at their fingertips, imagine the possibilities! Great post, Victoria!