Social media proves its power again

Previously in this blog I have highlighted how social media has put mass communication into the hands of individuals equipped with nothing more than a mobile phone.

  • Twitter users were the first to beam news and pictures of the ditching of the US Airways flight in the Hudson River around the world, at good 15 minutes before the news helicopters arrived on the scene.
  • More recently Twitter, Blogs and YouTube were used to communicate to the world what was going on inside Iran in the aftermath of the presidential election. Despite Iranian authorities attempts to suppress this internet news, both sides used their global potential to communicate their story to the world.

Pretty impressive for internet tools that some people still dismiss as nothing more than a means for bored teenagers to while away time, telling a disinterested world that everyone hates them.

Mobile phone
Armed with nothing more than a mobile phone, anyone can break news and distribute photos and video around the world.

The most recent example of how social media can actually set the news agenda comes from the stricken cruise ship Marco Polo.

As it docked at Invergordon, it became clear that a number of passengers and crew had fallen ill with the norovirus.

A woman passenger on the cruise ship started sending news on Twitter within hours of the death of an elderly passenger (who had other medical problems). That news was picked up by BBC Scotland and the cruise ship operators had a full blown crisis management issue to handle.

This is yet another wake up call that corporate communications strategies must be revised to take account of both the opportunities and the reputation risks that can result from social media.
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