How Can Social Media Respond to Crisis?

Free the WiFi of passwords
Tweet / Update Status as much as you can
Use the Same #Hashtag
Offer Help
Be Positive

On Saturday, my wife flew to Mumbai and as soon as I returned home seeing her off, I came to knew that Bal Thackeray has passed away. I knew something will be wrong with Mumbai, where the leader was based, and I was already watching televisions and monitoring social media.

My wife was scheduled to land at 10 pm, and the first bad news came at around 8:30 pm. The news said that the pre-paid taxi counters at the Mumbai airport was closed, 100,000 autorickshaws and taxies disappeared from road and public buses were pulled off the street. I was already trying to communicate with a few friends I have in Mumbai to see if anyone would be able to help if my wife is stranded.

While monitoring social media – especially Twitter – I was amazed that how well they served the news. While the mainstream news sites were telling me that the buses, taxis and autos have disappeared, tweeples were telling me that the city was calm and that there are many taxis and autos.

While the news sites informed me that at the airport there were chaos, tweeples were tweeting and retweeting offers for carpool (a system where a car owner gives the lift to people). I felt that if she was unable to find help at airport and if my friends were unable to help her, tweeting a message for support may pull up some help – it gave me the hope!

The good use of social media were later in the news: #CarpoolMumbai demonstrates power of social media… again and How SMS and Twitter helped Mumbai yesterday.

She was able to find an auto, that charged her triple and took her through the longest route, and I was relieved. But after that relief, I thought how would it be best to respond via social media if such crisis happens in Nepal. And, here I came up with something that would make the social media’s response to crisis easy, effective and best. I came up with five things that may help:

  1. Free the WiFi of passwords so that people can connect easily to the Internet.
  2. Tweet / Update Status as much as you can describing what you are seeing.
  3. Use the Same #Hashtag in Twitter by seeing what other people are using as hashtag so that people following the hashtag can see your updates.
  4. Offer Help from whatsoever position you are – could be a lift, a little food, a little cloths or even stayover.
  5. Be Positive and don’t tweet, retweet or share rumors or things that would make people panic more.

Do you have any other suggestion for the list? Please write down as comments.

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