Friday, January 15

Social Media in a Time of Crisis

Marketers are constantly talking about how we can use social media to connect with our consumers. Some brands have truly embraced it, while others are just beginning to talk about it. Truth is that all of us are still figuring it out, one way or the other.

And then along comes a crisis and the true role of social media slaps us in the face. In my mind it started with Neda in Iran --the woman who we basically all saw die on Twitter. I am sure that none of us would have known the severity of what was happening in Iran, real time, if it weren't for Twitter at that very moment.

I'm basically getting all of my urgent, real news on Twitter. The other day there was a bomb scare in Grand Central Station that shut down the trains and the subways in the area for hours. I followed the whole story on Twitter way before it ever hit the radar of the traditional news formats.

Then I used texting to make sure that my friends were not involved and that they were safe. Imagine if we had Twitter on 9/11? We would have known so much more about what was happening.

And now I'm using Facebook to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Simply text "haiti" on your cell phone and $10 is sent to relief efforts and is charged onto your cell phone. Yahoo and Google are offering ways to help. Everyone online is scrambling to find ways to help.

Social media has become THE way to stay connected and informed during times of crisis. I'm sure that just two years ago, before social media proliferation, I would have been so much less informed on these issues. And certainly less connected and engaged. We are not only getting the real story, real time, with real footage, we are finding ways to get involved. Even the traditional news outlets are using Twitter to stay more current.

So as marketers and brands it's important to see one how social media is impacting and adding value to our lives. It's a great way to get involved in issues, to be a participant in the "community", and to see how people are feeling and living their lives. It can save lives.

BTW -- if you want to join in the relief for Haiti, there are tons of options floating all over Facebook, including the effort from the Red Cross that has already topped $3million. Or simply go to for a list of ways to contribute.

I am so grateful to have these powerful connections to what is going on in the world.

What's your experience? Jim.

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