Social Media, faster than the speed of light!

In this past week I’ve survived an Earthquake and a Hurricane. So it’s true what they say—New Yorkers are resilient.

Earlier this week, while I dismissed the possibility that I was experiencing an earthquake, replacing that thought with a more logical one—I was experiencing the side effects of lack of sleep, it occurred to me, that I was indeed experiencing an earthquake! My desk moving forward to attack me solidified everything. So, I did what any sensible person would do—I grabbed my phone and ran outside. After all the commotion died down, I turned to the one place that I knew would have the latest coverage: Twitter. See, the rest of the news outlets are a few minutes behind and as a New Yorker, we make every minute count.

In a matter of seconds, after I made my first post about the earthquake, the earthquake hashtag exploded all over my screen. Hashtags everywhere, #Earthquake, #DCquake, #VAquake, #NYquake, but none better than the #Earthquakepocalyse. Now, that’s just classic!

So, what does all this mean? Well, here is it in a nutshell. Social media is an unstoppable force. It connects people in real time. It’s relevant information at your fingertips. In a matter of seconds my friends around the world in Australia, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Cambodia,Costa Rica knew about the East Coast Quake. About 15 minutes later, I saw the “breaking news” on the news. See, one of the most interesting components of social media is that is enables everyone to be a journalist/news correspondent. I’ve even heard rumors that it travels faster than the speed of light, but since I’m not a scientist, I can’t confirm it.

Just how fast is Social Media really?

Here’s a great example. Twitter says that more than 40,000 earthquake related tweets were sent within a minute of its occurrence. That basically breaks down to 5,500 tweets per second. (Refer back to my faster than speed of light theory.) More than 10,000 people had checked into Foursquare’s Earthquakepocalyse at the time of the occurrence. Those numbers speak volume as to how strong a medium social media really is.

Fast-forward to the end of the week—Hurricane Irene! Now, don’t get me wrong, I kept an eye on the television news coverage, however most of my Irene coverage came from Social Media. Social Media kept me informed, it gave me the information that I needed, the information that I was interested in viewing. I didn’t have to wait around during a commercial break, it was right there at my disposal. It was my timeline that first informed me that Irene had been downgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane, instead of the Category 3 Hurricane that was expected. It was social media that informed me that the NYC was shutting down public transportation in preparation for Irene. It was social media that informed me that Osama Bin Laden was killed. I can go on and on.

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a quick look at what makes Social Media different than other media:

  • It exist digitally
  • It’s real time information
  • It is everything that there is to know
  • It’s an open forum
  • Social Media is quickly changing & expanding
  • You can reach thousands of people
  • It’s easily accessible
  • Social Media=User Friendly. You don’t need to know any special skills to share information
  • Permanence-you can’t alter a newspaper once it’s printed, but you can alter a blog post or a tweet. This is a great asset in the social media realm

With all this being said, the world is changing by volume of information and we must be able to process it.  Social media has removed the middle man, you can publish anything, there is no longer a barrier, and there is nothing to stop you. Participation has changed everything and thus, behavior is constantly evolving. In marketing we always want to grow with the trends and because of this, marketing is more effective than ever and it’s all because of influence!