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Monday, September 1, 2008

Social Media Takes Proactive Lead As Gustav Nears New Orleans

On the 3 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, social media guru's are leading the charge to ensure that volunteer notices, rescue efforts, evacuation notices and other relative sources are accessible via the internet.

Tools that have been widely used for promoting brands are now being used as main resources for keeping the public informed on the latest Gustav updates. Andy Carvin, out of Washington, D.C., developed a social network on Ning, http://gustav08.ning.com to disseminate vital details and organize a viral volunteer staff that will man the site. The site, less than 48 hours old already has over 400 members and a support staff spanning the country. On the site, readers will find storm tracking maps, live video, RSS feeds, traffic cameras, Craigslist volunteer posts, updates from news crews in New Orleans as well as Red Cross updates with contact information.

Here is a list of the other ways social media technology is being used to disseminate information:

- Twitter updates are being sent with the tweet tags, #Gustav
- RSS feeds and SMS services are being created to allow stranded people in the Gulf to send text updates
- Videos- News crews and video teams are uploading footage to YouTube, and Blip.tv
- Live chats and webcasts from camera crews and reporters are being broadcasts via U-stream
- Audio updates- Many are using services like Jott and Utterz to send audio updates that are being linked on Twitter
- Additional information site- a Wiki has been created called Gustav wiki, http://gustavwiki.com, which contains more important links and information.

An example of social media at work, Rick Sanchez, a CNN correspondent broadcasted live on CNN while reading Twitter, Facebook and Myspace messages on the air. One of his most recent Twitter messages said "Thanks for letting us know what you want, need and have, so far, its going great. What a remarkable tool, cable TV with Twitter."

A testiment to the power of Twitter combined with the reach of CNN, at 1:10 am, Rick Sanchez had about 5,100 followers. By 2:30 am, he had 5,676 followers.