If you have telephoned a gas station in the last week or so, you were hoping to hear these words in response to the question on everyone’s mind.

“Yes, we have gas.”

The greater Dallas area is still feeling the effects of the “Great Gas Shortage of Thursday, August 30, 2017”.  A week later, many gas stations in the area are still on “E” when it comes to their fuel supply, and those that do have gas are charging 30, 40, or even 50 cents more per gallon than they were a week earlier.

How did gas become such a valuable, sought-after commodity in Dallas virtually overnight? Two words: Social media.

Once the word began spreading through various social media channels that Hurricane Harvey was causing the shutdown of refineries in Houston and a subsequent gas shortage in the Dallas area, the panic was on. It didn’t take long at all. Lines at the pumps grew exponentially. Prices rose substantially. Stations ran out of gas quickly.

Of course, there was no gas shortage—at least not at first. The panic that social media created over the supposed pending gas shortage ended up causing an ACTUAL gas shortage!

Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful marketing tools, long before the advent of social media. What social media does is throw more “fuel” (pun intended) on the word of mouth “fire”. Our words, both good and bad, spread far more quickly when social media is involved.

The gas shortage is an example of consumers channeling the immense power of social media to obtain a negative result. But it can also be used to achieve positive outcomes, such as in the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge raising more than $100 million worldwide to fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Here are three  takeaways from gas shortage when it comes to social media:

  1. If word of a crisis spreading on social media and it concerns your product or your space, first and foremost, you need to be aware of it.
  2. If a crisis happens in your space and you are in the proverbial catbird seat, you need a venue through which you can let everyone know that you have gas (or whatever product or service you’re offering) available.
  3. You cannot ignore this prime marketing opportunity. You might even enlist the help of a digital marketing agency (preferably Lux214!) to assist you reach your target audience during a crisis.

Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Similarly, Sun-Tzu reasoned that “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” With the help of social media, you can use a crisis situation to your advantage and become everyone’s hero during times of trouble.