iStrategyBlabs

The Good, Bad, and In-Between of Social Media In Crisis Situations

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For better or for worse, social media has dramatically impacted the way we communicate and keep in touch with each other and the world at large. Also for better or for worse, it has given us the means to communicate more — and often more effectively — in crisis situations.

The Good.

Individuals in crisis situations can use social media in a number of different ways. Perhaps the most obvious is to say “I’m okay.” While status updates are often jokingly associated with mundane life updates or more seriously associated with significant life announcements, in the wake of a terror attack or natural disaster taking a second to write “I’m okay” on social is an incredibly quick and easy way to relieve your friends and family from worry. Facebook has taken this use case to the next level by releasing Facebook Safety Check – an update that allows Facebook to ask if you’re okay when a natural disaster occurs in your city. If you are ok, it sends out a status update that says, “I’m safe.”

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When the Boston Marathon bomber attacked, the Boston Police utilized social media to communicate with the public. Moreover, the police and FBI utilized social media to recruit the public to help find the suspect. Following the bombings, the Boston Police released a photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Twitter. They then tweeted the possible license plate of the suspect. A subreddit started to populate clues and, while often misguided, the social media audience transformed into a, perhaps too-responsive, tip line. They used the general public to crowdsource information and assistance in finding the bomber.

Social media has also been used to effectively spread important safety information during crisis. When the power went out during Hurricane Sandy, people turned to social media for updates. News stations utilized social to communicate important safety information before the storm and in its aftermath. And during the initial period of the Ebola outbreak, the hashtag #EbolaFacts was used to inform citizens without knowledge of Ebola in danger areas on how it is spread and how to avoid contracting the disease.

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The Bad.

Social media has also had some negative impact during crisis.

For starters, people on social are often wrong. There is no truth filter, so if you rely on a stream of people’s opinions and misinformation as your news source, it’s not 100% reliable. The subreddit determining the Boston Marathon bomber falsely accused the wrong person of being the suspect, resulting in a family with a missing child being wrongfully targeted. A random man told everyone on Twitter that the NYSE had flooded during Sandy. False. In fact, a false GoFundMe page was set up for the fallen soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, in Canada after the Ottawa shooting. Despite this, studies have shown that while social media does spread both true and false statements during crisis, it then quashes the false ones and promotes the true ones – in other words, it often rectifies itself.

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Social posts intending to be helpful or to announce the user’s safety, can also unintentionally reveal information that can endanger others. On October 22nd, as the hunt for the gunman in Ottawa took place, individuals in Parliament Hill were on lockdown live tweeting the events as they unfolded. While they were intending to simply reveal their own safety and keep the public informed, they also publicized police and personal locations while an active terrorist was on the loose.

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Social media can also sensationalize crisis. Ebola has become one of the most talked about and feared topics of recent history. Yet, it is not the biggest threat to our lives. This has spurred a number of articles with veering degrees of sarcasm showing threats to our lives that are greater than Ebola, compared to social media and news coverage. Apparently there are a lot.

Sensationalization also resulted in Malaysia Airlines receiving a massive blow to their public perception heavily influenced by users posting pictures of empty flights and short lines following the loss of two commercial airplanes (Flight 370 and MH17).

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The In-Between.

Some things are just different now. Maybe they are good, maybe they’re really bad, it’s hard to tell — but they are definitely different. The ease at which images and video can be spread has allowed for violent and crude visuals to be effortlessly acquired straight from the frontlines of crisis and war. In Ukraine, the revolution in Odessa was live streamed. People could watch warfare, death, and despair from the safety of their homes.

A 16-year-old girl named Farah Baker in Gaza live tweeted from the war zone resulting in thousands of retweets. She openly discussed having lived through three wars with her 6-year-old sister and parents. Whenever she fell silent for periods between tweets, concern grew that something had happened to Farah. Twitter users waited for her updates to ensure her safety.

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The Question.

What is still abundantly clear is that social media is now a living breathing part of every major crisis from natural disasters to acts of terrorism. In fact, according to MIS Quarterly and PsychCentral, “Twitter has become the leading social reporting tool to report eyewitness accounts and share information about disasters, terrorist attacks, and social crises.” Technology is constantly changing the way we live and interact. The question is, what’s next?

The Facebook “Mentions Box” Goes Live At The Emmy Awards

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Facebook, already the biggest brand in social media, was looking for a better way to bridge the gap between celebrities and fans, specifically at live events. Behold: The Facebook “Mentions Box” which just debuted at the 2014 Emmy’s — allowing celebrities to “shake” the device to surface a fan question (pulling directly from the event’s Facebook Page) and immediately record a video response back.

At the Emmys, the Mentions Box was used by everyone from Jimmy Fallon, to Matthew McConaughey, to Ty Burrell and Jason Biggs — to stars from Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black, and HBO’s Silicon Valley (see below!).

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After many discussions, brainstorms, and rapid prototyping efforts focused on how to best represent the Facebook platform in physical space, we landed on a simple concept drawing inspiration from mediums people already know and enjoy (landing on something between a Magic 8-Ball in function and an Etch-A-Sketch in form).

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Ultimately, we settled on a tablet encased in a polycarbonate form factor, with a luxury car finish.

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We started the process by concepting potential types of physical devices that talent would be able to easily (and quickly) interact with — using cardboard and simple materials to play around with various form factors.

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The admin console (primarily a question moderation tool) sources questions from specific Facebook posts and then pushes approved questions straight to The Facebook Mentions Box.

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Leading up to the Emmy’s, The Mentions Box was featured on Access Hollywood by hosts Billy Bush and Shaun Robinson:

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More pics of the Mentions Box in action, straight from the Access Hollywood Facebook Page!

 

 

 

 


Update
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On September 5th, Facebook teamed up with Stand Up To Cancer to utilize the Mentions Box to connect celebrities with donors supporting the live charity event.

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Summer 2014 Music Festivals Get Social — Coachella Leads The Pack

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With summer coming to a close, we decided to take a look back at how some of the country’s most well-attended music festivals — Coachella, Bonnaroo, Firefly, and most recently, Lollapalooza — used social and digital activations to enhance their crop-topped crowds’ festival experiences. We took a look into an array of  festival activations including RFID bracelets, .gif animators, and Instagram installations; so, whether you found yourself swaying side-to-side at Woodstock 45 years ago, or your Coachella sunburn just stopped peeling, we think you’ll appreciate the great lengths festivals are going to these days to ensure that no experience goes undocumented. After all, how else are you supposed to prove to your future children that you once crowd surfed in the middle of a field in Delaware?

Festival Facts and Stats

  • CoachellaIndio, California // April 2014 // Headliners: OutKast, Muse, Arcade Fire // Launched 1999

  • Bonnaroo: Manchester, Tennessee // June 2014 // Headliners: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White // Launched 2002

  • Firefly: Dover, Delaware // June 2014 // Headliners: OutKast, Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson // Launched 2012

  • Lollapalooza: Chicago, Illinois // August 2014 // Headliners: Eminem, OutKast, Kings of Leon // Launched 1991

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R.F.I.D. Wristbands

If you’ve been to a music festival recently you know that the likelihood of your cell phone battery dying is high (gasp!). Should this tragically occur, how are you supposed to check-in to the OutKast stage on Facebook? Thanks to radio frequency identification technology (R.F.I.D.), several festivals have started implementing R.F.I.D. wristbands that attendees can “personalize” using their Facebook information. Lollapalooza attendees were even able to pay for food and drinks using their smart wristbands as part of the Lolla Cashless system, making them the first music festival to take that leap. Not only is this feature handy for festival attendees, it’s a gold mine for marketers. Think about all the data and analytics you can get by scanning those wristbands, people.

Source: BizBash Erika Goldring, Photo: Erika Goldring

Bonnaroo attendees swipe their wristbands, and have their photo taken and
shared to social media at one of four kiosks around the venue (Source: BizBash, Photo: Erika Goldring)

 

Coachella, #HMLovesMusic

Festival fashion is synonymous with cut-offs, fringe, and fanny packs. This year Coachella partnered with H&M to capture festival-goers’ style with one of our favorite social activations — they’re calling it “H&M <3 Music,” and we’re calling it “The .GIF Runway”. Users were recorded walking on a treadmill-like platform in front of a green screen, and turned into psychedelic supermodels after a little bit of photo magic.  The outcome below is pure genius.

Source: The Bosco

Witness additional hilarity here. (Source: The Bosco)

Festival Frames

Human-sized photo frames are all the rage at festivals this summer. If Instagramming your music festival experience wasn’t already at the forefront of your mind when you walked through the gates, these festival photo frames are an in-your-face reminder to strike a pose with your pals.

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Not only were Firefly Instagrammers able to collect free polaroid sticker prints of photos they tagged with #InstaFirefly, little did they know that they were simultaneously helping Firefly paint a much bigger picture with their photos. Throughout the festival, Firefly staff were tasked with strategically placing copies of fan photos onto a wall, creating a giant photo mosaic. At the end of the weekend, Firefly revealed the finished product via their own Instagram account.

Firefly staff arranged fan photos on a mural, creating a giant image of a Firefly artist

Firefly staff arranged fan photos on a mural, creating a giant image of a Firefly artist

Celebrity Activations
Sure .GIF runways are awesome and cashless wristbands are convenient, but get a celebrity to show up to your festival and you have the power to break Twitter. Native Chicagoan Malia Obama was spotted at Lollapalooza this month in true festival fashion — a flower printed tank top accessorized with her Secret Service agents. One lucky fan actually managed to sneak a photo with the eldest Obama, and was kind enough to share the moment on Twitter.

 

We can’t help but think that the only thing missing from this impressive collection of activations is a Social Beer Fridge — like this one – that fans can unlock with their wristbands. Who knows what next summer will bring. Until then, enjoy this Spotify playlist with your crappy headphones while you count down to next summer’s festivals.

The World According To Facebook — iOS vs Android Usage In The World’s Most Populous Countries…Android Wins

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We pulled data from Facebook’s Advertising Platform and the United States Census Bureau to analyze device preference for Facebook users across the 50 most populous countries in the world.  The information we gathered is based on users’ purchase behaviors or intents, device usage, and more.

Take a look at the infographic below to see which mobile devices these other populous countries prefer.  Enjoy!

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  • The three countries with the highest percentage of  users on Facebook — United Kingdom, United States, and Canada — were using iOS devices significantly more than they were using Android devices.
  • Only 5 of the 50 most populous countries in the world favor iOS devices, as opposed to the other 45 who favor Android.
  • China is the most populous country in the world with over 1 billion people. Only .06% of the population is on Facebook.  Of those 840,000 people, 280,000 use an iOS device.
  • Over 50% of the total selected population uses Android while only 22% uses iOS.

 

Facebook’s Massive Growth Opportunity: 56.4% Penetration In the U.S., 0.03% in North Korea

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Now at 10 years old, Facebook continues to see impressive growth (with the biggest story being explosive mobile ad revenue)  – but what about global expansion?  We pulled data from Facebook’s Advertising Platform (“estimated potential reach”) and the United States Census Bureau  (up-to-date population counts) to look at global penetration across the top 50 most populous countries. Take a look at the infographic below to see what we found. Enjoy!

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Top Insights:

  • Facebook’s biggest growth opportunity exists in countries like India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Nigeria. China also presents a massive opportunity but only if current regulations change and Facebook is allowed into the country.
  • That said, there’s still significant growth opportunity in the U.S., Canada and UK (all at 56% penetration).
  • Malaysia & Argentina are the two non-English speaking countries that show greater than 50% penetration.
  • Fun fact: North Korea shows 8,000 users.

Considerations:

  • While this data comes directly from Facebook’s Advertising Platform, there is no way for us to estimate or take into account any potentially “fake” profiles.