Hurricane Social


On occasion, I still get an executive who “doesn’t get” social media.

There’s the customary eye roll and the insistence that social media is for “teenagers.”  This is usually when they tell me their high school age son or daughter knows more about Facebook than any high-priced, smarty pants consultant.

(I think that’s a reference to me).

If you still don’t understand social media then all you have to do is see what happens during a crisis.

Like a hurricane, for instance.

Yesterday, as one of the largest storms in history pounded the East Coast, social channels lit up – even when the power was going out.  Not only from individuals, but from news organizations.

The result was that people like me got the news they really wanted – personalized, localized and nearly instantaneous.

Because of Twitter, I found the New York Times interactive storm tracker that allowed me to see the progress and direction of the storm.  The New York Times also provided an incredible wind map that showed the direction and speeds from the storm.  This was a valuable resource that I checked frequently throughout Monday.

Following the hashtag #Sandy on Twitter, I got news on the storm as soon as it was posted.  Not only from CNN, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times, but from friends, colleagues and bloggers.  I knew where emergency resources were and about the status of my local situation.  This instant coverage delivered right to my Twitter feed gave me comfort – and valuable news and information.

Facebook customized and personalized the storm.  When a disaster strikes, the first concern is for family, friends, and colleagues.  Facebook status updates gave me the latest news from nearly everyone I care about.  My News Feed provided me with humor (I have some very funny friends), photographs, videoes, commentary, and well wishes from my social graph.  I knew what was happening on the ground at their homes.

In effect, they became storm correspondents.

I knew when colleagues’ power went out (so I wouldn’t bother them with emails or phone calls).  I knew when the tree fell in my neighbor’s lawn (nearly taking out his shed).  I knew that friends in New York were safe (but in the dark).

This is how social media works best.  Connecting us.  Informing us.  Reminding us that we’re not alone when the lights flicker out and the wind is pounding the house with debris.  That help and information is just a click away.

If you don’t “get” social media then maybe what you really don’t understand is how communications has changed.  How technology has enable us to do what we’ve always done – talk to each other.


New York Times Wind Map

New York Times Storm Tracker

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