When Iranian citizens took the streets to challenge the Presidential elections last year it was difficult to obtain any real time reporting from traditional sources in the mainstream media. The government had cracked down on all foreign media, and threatened severe retribution.
But while CNN, ABC, and NBC all struggled to keep the video and audio flowing, we saw the emergence of an entirely new form of communication in street-level reporting. Anyone and everyone with some type of connection to the internet suddenly had the instant ability to become the next Christiane Amanpour, Anderson Cooper, or Wolf Blitzer.
During no other disaster has the entire world depended on cyber space as we do today.
This week, the internet faces it’s greatest test to demonstrate its capacity for good as it continues to establish a firm foot hold during history in the making.
Social media has developed into a modern technology which allows us to reach into areas of the world with immediacy in a way traditional systems can no longer match.
Facebook has 1500 status updates involving Haiti in every minute. Relatives and friends are utilizing the power of Facebook as a tool to obtain information about missing loved ones who have .
In some cases, the first long awaited message that a family member is OK has come in the form of a tweet. A Twitter message of less than 140 characters can carry this type of news more easily, more quickly, and more consistently when telephone and other traditional communication systems no longer can function.
Celebrities and musicians with hundreds of thousands of followers on twitter have established fund raising efforts with incredible results. Those followers join the cause, but then create an entirely new group of donors simply by re-tweeting the information to their own followers.
The result? Millions and millions of dollars in donations in just a few days from this twitter effort alone.
Haven’t given in to lure of your Tweeps, or have yet to take the dive in creating a Facebook presence? No worries.
Just today (January 14, 2010), the American Red Cross reported that over 3 million dollars has been raised- ten dollars at a time- from people simply texting in donations from their cell phones.
We are truly at a turning point in communications worldwide. As social media continues to demonstrate its value in Haiti, we begin to wonder what new technologies will grow from this point forward, and dream of how different it may be in just a few years.
Whether in a fund-raising role, or by providing a critically important communications ability, social media is no longer only a means by which to just chat with friends. This week, it has evolved into an entirely new animal, demonstrating just how invaluable it can be.
Added Jan. 15- Be sure to check out a post this morning from PIOSocialMediaTraining.com written by David Konig entitled “Social Mddia- The Real First Responder in Haiti” He lists details and links to several social media efforts to communicate and donate to the disaster in Haiti…
was written by @DavidKonig for PIOSocialMediaTraining.com