What Hurricane Sandy Teaches Us About Social Media
Like many of you this week, I watched Hurricane Sandy thrash the East Coast. I have aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and many friends on the East Coast. I followed the progress of the hurricane from their updates. I followed as they talked about preparing, then about the rain and wind, and then, Monday afternoon, I saw my feed go silent, and that’s when I knew they had lost power and connectivity.
As the world was (and still is) glued to TV, websites, and social media, Hurricane Sandy is teaching and reminding us of some basic human behaviors – which are amplified by social media.
#1 We are social.
Humans do not live in vacuums or on the proverbial “island.” People all over the world were affected – flights cancelled, meetings cancelled, gas prices rising, shipments delayed. People used social media to keep friends, loved ones, news outlets, and fellow East Coasters updated in real-time. Most people found out information before the news outlets could report it. Lesson? If you want to stay “in the know” or let other people know about you, social media is the fastest, most time-efficient way to do it. Even though it was 1000 miles wide, Hurricane Sandy shows us how small the world has become.
#2 We want to share.
People posted videos of what they were doing to prepare. Moms shared ideas for how to entertain kids when the power goes out. People kept their loved ones updated as long as electricity and phone lines allowed. It’s human nature to share information. Social media takes advantage of this basic human instinct. This is what has kept humans alive for centuries and it’s what you need to do to keep your business alive. When you share with your customers and partners you are tapping into their same basic need to share and receive information.
#3 We Want to know what’s happening.
There are those of us who don’t care about celebrity gossip, politics, tech news, or business, but when something happens that affects us personally, or those we may know, we start caring. We want to know about it. We want to keep track and keep updated. Most people don’t check East Coast weather on a daily basis, but because something newsworthy was happening, they wanted to know what was going on. Social media allows us to connect and keep updated, whether it’s a hurricane or looking at photographs of a friend’s wedding.
#4 We Want to Help.
In the end, we want to know everyone is safe, buildings are still standing, and hospitals and emergency crews are prepared to help those in need. We want to know what to donate and where. We want to send notes, tweets, updates of encouragement, support, and hope. Individuals want to feel part of the human experience and social media allows participation in this experience more than ever before.
These natural inclinations to share, learn, and communicate are why social media and social communications are so popular and have totally transformed the way we live and work. Extraordinary events like Hurricane Sandy remind us of our basic human needs to connect, share, learn, and care about and help each other. Social media has enabled us to act on these human instincts faster and more proactively than ever before.