Unfortunately this past week the East Coast experienced the wrath of the super storm Sandy. Leaving millions of people without power and thousands without homes, the social media frenzy began growing in size alongside the hurricane. It was no surprise that the twitterverse and news feeds were exploding with breaking news coverages, updates from the shoreline, and support from the entire nation. One New Jersey resident I spoke to reported that the only way he got his news was via Twitter on his smartphone and that is when it occurred to me to research just how big a role social media played during and after Hurricane Sandy.
One interesting article I read revealed that Twitter tracked the words “Sandy” and “hurricane” and reported over 20 million tweets were sent using those words in just 7 days. The same article also confirmed that others in New York had gone through the same routine of accessing Twitter from a mobile device around 9 p.m. on Monday which was close to the same time a majority of the city had lost power and it became there biggest news source.
What I really wanted to focus on however was how Twitter helped turn this catastrophic event being narrated via 140 character tweets into a device used to aid the victims and promote relief efforts. Shara Tibken the author of the article wrote, “Other interesting tidbits from Twitter is that between Saturday and Tuesday, there was a 30 percent increase in tweets mentioning the Red Cross, and this week, mention of the word “donate” is at a 180-day peak while mention of “donate blood” is at a year high” This to me was absolutely amazing to see the the nation react so fast.
The Red Cross also used Twitter for communication means by tweeting a number in which a text message could be sent to 90999 and a $10 donations would be made to relief funds. This tweet was also mentioned by several celebrities helping promote the cause and was a great way to spread the word and keep donations coming to try and help as many of the victims as possible.
As social media grows there will always be a struggle between the pros and cons. As the clean up for Hurricane Sandy continues I can only hope that people can truly understand how beneficial of a role social media has played and will continue to play in getting back stability on the East Coast.