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Social Media

The Genius Solution to One City's Pavement Problem: Make the Potholes Tweet

The Genius Solution to One City's Pavement Problem: Make the Potholes Tweet
Image credit: P4 Ogilvy & Mather and Telemetro Reporta
Former West Coast Editor
3 min read

Pissed potholes in Panama City are stirring up a tweetstorm.

“I feel terrible. I just caused tire damage to an old lady’s car,” a pothole in the bustling capital metropolis tweeted recently. “Accept it: I’m an epidemic!” another tweeted. “Will there be a cure for this outbreak of holes?”

The potholes -- outfitted with RF transmitters and pressure sensors that trigger tweets whenever vehicles roll over them -- are complaining in 140-character rants. Their kvetches are coming from a 2,290-follower Twitter account called El Hueco Twitero (The Tweeting Pothole).

Related: New Dove Campaign Aims to Cleanse Twitter of Rampant Trolling and Hate Speech

Their beef: The city’s building boom gave rise to a stunning skyscraper-studded skyline, but it left the surrounding streets a wreck. Many roadways remain unfinished, riddled with loose rocks, dangerous ditches and muddy muck. The target of their vitriol: The Panama City Ministry of Public Works (MOP), the entity responsible for cleaning up the mess. Lucky MOP. It automatically gets @ tagged -- publicly called-out -- in every whiny tweet.

The creative minds behind the Tweeting Pothole initiative are from ad agency P4 Ogilvy & Mather and Telemetro Reporta, a popular local newscast. Enough commuters vented their frustrations about the crummy roads to the news show for its reporters to take action, planting the peeved potholes along the city’s worst streets, cameras rolling all the while. And what a brilliant story they got and continue to get, cranky auto-tweet after cranky auto-tweet.   

Related: Afraid of Sharks? No Problem. Just Check Twitter.

Telemetro Reporta scored more than just a juicy community action scoop. It successfully tweet-shamed the department of public works into repairing the rough roads, well, at least a few of them so far.

Strategically griping on Twitter -- it beats writing a letter to your local public servant. We’d love to see more effective tweetstorms like this that don’t just blow hot air, that spur positive change.     

For a closer look at the innovative campaign, roll the video below:

Related: How to Tweet With Purpose

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