Like us here at Intrepid Marketing Group, many of you are already aware of the advantages social media can have in both your personal and work life. From connecting with friends, family, making business contacts, and staying in the loop with up-to-date headlines on major trending topics, social media has enabled users to stay current with headlines on Libya and in touch with friends regardless of proximity. But this week, we at Intrepid are beginning to notice a new trend: a social media storm (no pun intended) around Hurricane Sandy, or should be say ‘The Frankenstorm’.
From finding your nearest emergency shelter (in a company blog post, Twitter listed the best accounts to follow for live updates) to getting live updates from the Weather Channel’s meteorologists, social media networks worked overtime with the latest news and tips as East Coast residence prepared for The Frankenstorm’s landfall late Monday evening.
On Twitter, #Sandy was one of the top trending topics in areas expected to be in the pathway of the storm earlier on Monday. As residents hunkered-down, most are looking for tips and updates on how to stay safe and what to expect. Twitter even provided The Red Cross, FEMA, the New York City’s Mayor’s Office and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency with free promoted crisis tweets. Twitter also curated a #Sandy page with tweets from major news sources, governors, and mayors’ offices updating followers on the status of the storm and relief efforts.
Aside from Twitter, other social networks noticed an incredible spike in conversations about Sandy as the storm ravaged the East Coast. In what some have described as Instagram’s defining moment in citizen journalism, users on the photo-sharing network were uploading 10 images per second with a Sandy hashtag. On Monday, there were already 285,000 pictures tagged #Sandy alone. The website #instacane was also launched, to tell Sandy’s story via Instagram photos. Facebook users were also eager to share their thoughts and concerns about Sandy. According to Facebook Journalism Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik, as of Monday night the top ten most frequently posted words on Facebook all referenced Hurricane Sandy.
Google, too, set up an interactive map that logs and tracks the pathway of the storm. This new technology is even able to provide real-time data in areas already beginning to feel the wrath of Sandy’s outer edges. Even now, two days after Frankenstorm’s landfall, Google continues to provide users with Hurricane Sandy Emergency Information at the top of all related searches.
Aside from social media networks and search engines, news outlets such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal took down their pay walls allowing readers to access news regarding the storm (although The Wall Street Journal still has its pay wall up for articles not related to weather). Many meteorologists and news reporters put themselves in immediate danger to live report the changing conditions on Monday night. In what CNN’s Chad Myers described as television news reporters’ “Super Bowl,” a few examples of reporters fighting the elements are shown below.
The American Red Cross also has joined the social media relief initiative, launching an app that provides the latest storm information, a list of supplies to have in your house, and even a hurricane quiz to both inform and entertain while those of us at home prepare and wait out Sandy’s lasting effects.
With Halloween here and Election Day looming, many are concerned about the widespread power outages and transportation closings. A spokesperson for the National Retail Federation assured Advertising Age on Monday that the vast majority of Halloween shoppers, including even the last-minute costume people, have already stopped in and picked up their candy, costumes and decorations.
In case you haven’t already seen any of the incredible pictures from Sandy’s aftermath, be sure to check out the News & Observer’s collection of photos here. Fast Company has also collected the 5 best maps and visualizations of the Frankenstorm.
Have you been impacted by Hurricane Sandy? Has Sandy affected your Halloween plans? Our thoughts are with all of those directly dealing with the storm’s destruction. Be sure to check out Mashable’s list of 7 ways to help victims of Superstorm Sandy online.