Last Tuesday, Jan. 12, a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti near its capital of Port-au-Prince. The devastation caused in its wake is nothing less than catastrophic.
In this time of dire need, social media is providing politicians, news organizations and even private citizens the means to inform, advocate and provide aid for those affected by this disaster. This situation is the perfect example of what social media is allowing us to do. Just a few years ago, the speed of information dissemination or even donations was exponentially slower because we lacked these incredible tools. I mean it wasn’t until two months after I was displaced by Hurricane Katrina that I had even heard of Facebook… let alone Twitter.
Doing some preliminary web browsing for this blog, I plugged in Haiti to a search in Google Trends. I found that before last Tuesday, Haiti was a little searched topic, making a minor spike in 2004 when President Bush announced he was sending troops in.
Continuing my skimming I decided to dig a little deeper and find the myriad of ways people are helping. I discovered three outlets that have stepped it up for this cause: YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
If some say a picture says a thousand words, how many does a video say? While we are all (mostly) guilty of primarily using YouTube as a source of humor, it really says a lot that this outlet is evolving into a more comprehensive and informational being. YouTube users have provided us with all sorts of videos about Haiti from shocking clips of human suffering to PSA announcements.
Have you seen CNN’s YouTube Channel? Anderson Cooper’s valient attempts to help a small boy drenched in blood was unbelievable. I’m pretty sure just about everyone saw it judging by how many hits it had (224,514 in just two days). If you haven’t seen it here it is…
It doesn’t stop there. Public Service Announcement from current and former White House inhabitants further show the power of video. Michelle Obama is featured in a PSA pleading with the American people to help those in Haiti. Also Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton teamed up and released this video.
I’m really digging the bipartisanship on this issue, despite what Rush Limbaugh may say…
Haiti may have broke the record for longest standing trending topic. It literally has not stopped trending since the actual event. Honestly, everyone from Ashton Kutcher to your hip aunt has been tweeting about Haiti. Yesterday around 7 pm I clicked on Haitiand within a minute there were 300 new tweets.
TweetCongress.org, my favorite site to track political tweets has been following the members of Congress tweeting it up about Haiti. @Senate Republicans gave some updates on what individual Senators have been doing. One such tweet was about Senator Thune urging support for Haitian adoptions. And while there aren’t as many dems on Twitter, those that are have something to say about Haiti. But what everyone in Congress is talking about today, despite your side of the aisle, is the legislation passed in the House allowing Haiti aid contributions to be tax deductible. Go team.
That being said, @RedCross is blowing up right now. Of the information out there, this organization has stepped their game up. Not only do they give updates on the conditions and donations, President Obama allegedly tweeted via their account (he pushed the button). What’s great about the Red Cross using Twitter is the information they give is short and quick (i.e. the purpose of Twitter), but still getting the point across quickly to a mass number of people, who then retweet it to even more people. Maybe that’s why Haiti has been trending for so long?
Of the three types of social media, Facebook.com is the juggernaut of the clan. By that I mean it has the most stuff you can do with just one site. There are thousands of groups and pages with hundreds of thousands of members and fans all trying to show support for the victims of this tragedy. Not only that, but people are updating their statuses with information about how to use text messaging to donate to Haiti.
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin wrote a note (quasi-blog post for Facebook) on her fan page about how to donate via text messaging. With 1,222,077 fans, only second to Barak Obama, her note was “liked” by over 12,000 people. That’s a lot of Facebookers to reach in one paragraph!
One Last Thought… DONATE!
Though it has been nine days since the earthquake it seems as though things may get worse before it gets better. On that note, its good to know that people still care. Do what you can by donating to the Red Cross efforts in Haiti by texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999. I know this is a blog about social media, but this is pretty important stuff.