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Butler employs social media to tame Irma’s effects

As Hurricane Irma moved northward up the Florida peninsula, Butler Enterprises was ready with a plan to use social media to keep beleaguered Gainesville residents supplied with necessities.

On Sept. 5, director of marketing Mary Reichardt put Butler Plaza’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to work as emergency notification services. At the height of the flooding and power outages in Gainesville, Butler posted ongoing updates on which stores at its nearly 300-acre complex had received supplies of gas, water, flashlights, batteries and bread.

Updates continue to be posted by Butler as locals still labor to take things back to normal.

“At first, I and the property manager did regular tours of the stores and posted photos and reports of products on shelves,” Reichardt said. “Before long we started receiving updates directly from tenants like Lowe’s because their customers were coming in and telling them they’d read on the Shop at Butler Facebook page that they had lumber.”

The same occurred when Sam’s Club received the first truckload of gasoline to enter Gainesville post-storm.

One Facebook friend posted a thank-you note on the Facebook page that said, “Not only is Butler Plaza the best place to shop in Gainesville, you also performed a valuable public service in a very difficult time.”

A side-benefit for Butler was forging new bonds with tenants. “Our relationships grew significantly because of the storm,” Reichardt said.

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