The proliferation of technology has the capacity to change the way humans interact and behave in their everyday lives. From the internet forever changing communication, to automobiles forever changing transportation, these advances have the ability to radically alter our lives in many ways.
One of the most fascinating examples of this is the ever changing adaptation of social media. In the case of natural disasters, like the tornado that devastated Oklahoma on May, 20, 2013, social media is now being used as a powerful tool to empower and assist those affected by tragedy.
In a time of trouble, social media is often a first-stop for people to turn to in order to find information quickly and easily. According to an article by USA today, more than 1,700 people have joined the group Moore Oklahoma Tornado Safe where people are posting information about missing family members. One photo album is titled “Photos of survivors, hope one is your lost loved one.”
According to a study done by NBC News, one in five Americans has used an emergency app. Of those Americans affected by natural disasters, 76% used social media to contact friends and family; 37% of used social media to help find shelter and supplies; and 24% used social media to let loved ones know they’re safe.
But social media isn’t just connecting loved ones with one another, it’s also connecting people with professional assistance. During Hurricane Sandy, a group of Red Cross staff members were assigned to monitor Twitter for specific postings so they could better respond to the natural disaster. They monitored and responded to over 4,500 tweets related to the disaster.
As the extent of the damage in Oklahoma becomes clearer, social media will likely continue to play a major role in the aftermath. Many organizations are also taking advantage of their social media outlets as a quick and easy way to handle donations and raise awareness about how to help victims of the disaster.
While social media might not be an all-in-one solution to any issue – natural disaster or company snafu –the repurposing of a social media platform can sometimes be the most effective and quickest way to reach an audience. As media professionals, it’s important to understand that the landscape of technology is constantly changing, as is the ways that individuals make use of this technology in their everyday lives. By taking advantage of this, it’s becoming increasingly easier to connect with an audience in a significant and powerful way.