Hurricane Irene may have not had a powerful impact on the coast of the US but it definitely made waves in the social media sphere. Not only did people talk about the hurricane, they also shared and re-tweeted their thoughts. Which clearly goes to show no matter what the magnitude of a certain issue is there is a good chance that it will end up on a social networking site.
The old adage “All publicity is good publicity” definitely holds true to some extent in case of a crisis scenario that is being publicized via social networking. Not all publicity was done by regular users. The National Hurricane Center in the US understood the reach of social media and sent regular tweets to update the public about the situation and the kind of precautions they could take. On the other hand people used Twitter and Facebook in order to share the impact of the storm on their area thereby giving outsiders and travelers a clear idea of the kind of situation they could expect. The viral nature of social media is one of the primary reasons why it comes in very handy in case of a crisis situation. News and pertinent information travels fast and reaches anyone who has internet access. While there may be a chance of panic situations, in most cases it helps share information even before television broadcasts. The reliability level of the news too is higher as compared to a news channel. Who would you rather believe; a news correspondent or the common public stuck in a similar situation?
The potential of a social citizenry is high in times of crisis as it not only opens avenues to receive real-time information but also connects the world in case of post-crisis scenario. The Haiti situation is a good example of the way in which the world got together in order to provide help and support to the victims.