I'm writing this article from Beaverton Oregon, one of the tech suburbs of Portland. As I do so, my wife and our family are still trying to get updates on family members in Houston area nursing homes to make sure they're all right in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. We're also thinking about friends of ours in Palm Beach Florida, in the path of Hurricane Irma. But, frankly, we're more focused on our local disaster. The Eagle Creek Fire which has, over the course of four days lit over 20,000 acres of the Columbia Gorge on fire, and crossed the Columbia River. The wildfire is hard to ignore with evacuation notifications for the small towns East of Portland coming in and escalating hourly, and ash falling like a dusting of snow on Beaverton, 26 miles Southwest of the flames. Being a marketer, the importance, power, and reach of social media is not lost on me, especially in times of crisis.
In Houston with Harvey, as in New Jersey with Superstorm Sandy, when phone lines failed, and 911 was unreachable, people took to social media to get help. Savvy agencies were listening during Sandy. It was the same during Harvey with agencies actively listening, and communicating with people during and after the storm. But social reach has grown since Sandy, and social media showed itself to be a true means of connection beyond government agencies as both people, and agencies, sent out calls for help that were answered by average citizens going to extraordinary lengths to help their fellow community members.
People like me spend a lot of time explaining how and why social media is an essential component of marketing and business. Today I'm telling you it's an essential form of communication in times of crisis. With that in mind, I'm going to give you the essential tips about how to use social media to stay in touch before, during, and after a disaster.