Social Media’s Role in Disaster Relief

Emily MacNair - March 1, 2011

Social media has proven to be an excellent marketing tool for companies, but the greater power social media becomes undoubtedly apparent at certain times.  One of those times is now, as many of us woke up Tuesday morning to the devastating news that an earthquake rattled the lives of those in Christchurch, NZ.  Although we’ve only been aware of this natural disaster for a short period of time, social media has enabled victims to share their situation with family, friends and loved ones.  The speed at which social media helps to organize aid for victims is extraordinary.  Members of organizations monitor social media channels just as individuals do. As a result, they can quickly be alerted to where their efforts are most needed.

Organizations have rapidly jumped to provide assistance and distribute information surrounding the earthquake. Google has showed support by powering a People Finder in addition to setting up a Crisis Response page, which feeds in news and information from various locations. With real-time sites available such as Twitter, a moment doesn’t go by where information cannot be shared around the world in an instant.  Individuals and organizations on Twitter are tweeting ways to donate, emergency phone numbers to call, tentative plans to open up airports, photos and videos of the damage, etc.

For those around the world trying to stay up on the latest news from Christchurch, it certainly isn’t difficult. If you are a social media fan, your channel of choice already has news which you can follow, whether it is YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google News, etc. 

Even though many of us use social media for marketing or promotional opportunities within our businesses on a daily basis, we shouldn’t forget how social media has altered communication, especially in times need.

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