Social media allows people to manipulate the same information in countless ways because it is a compilation of everyone’s unique perspective. From satire to slapstick, every person’s sense of humor is distinct. This discrepancy is especially noticeable in light of serious events, such as Hurricane Sandy that demolished areas along the east coast, especially New York and New Jersey last October. While traditional news media outlets were busy reporting live from the sites of the wreckage and profiling families who lost their houses or loved ones, certain social media outlets were presenting the “news” in a completely different tone.  

The Twitter account @SANDYTHECANE (https://twitter.com/SANDYTHEHCANE) surfaced and began tweeting comical commentary about the storm, from where it had already been to what it had done, and even rewriting song lyrics and puns into ridiculously clever statements. While most people found this account hilariously entertaining, those who were closer to the damage and suffered personal effects from the storm may have disagreed. 




Spoof pictures of animals flying around in the air from the hurricane winds also circulated the Internet, as well as record uploads to Instagram tagged #Sandy, and Twitter trending topics #Sandy, #Frankenstorm, and #hurricanesandy.


In contrast, social media was (and continues to be) used in constructive ways during and after Hurricane Sandy: 

  •  The start-up social network Recovers.org was founded and is investigating the applications for “crowdsourced disaster-recovery” that allows people to organize to volunteer and donate.
  • Text messages and tweets directed volunteers and victims to refuge shelters post-hurricane.
  • http://sandysucks.tumblr.com was started to organize relief efforts.
  • The Red Cross communicated via Twitter to inform people about how to help. 


Sources: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-11-20/national/35507983_1_social-media-staten-island-hurricane-sandy 





Tweet Tweet

One of my favorite things about Newhouse is both the quantity and quality of guest speakers that visit various classes, all completely appropriate for the topic and with applicable professional experience. This semester, the case was no different for the “Advanced PR Writing for the Digital World” class I am currently enrolled in. This time, Christy Perry, web content manager for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications was there with us at 8am to discuss social media and the impact it has on public relations. 

Perry reinforced the principles that social media, specifically Twitter,  should be used to widen one’s outreach, build relationships, get the audience to share information about you, and cut costs and increase revenue as a source of free advertising. Students contributed the examples of retail companies urging people to retweet pictures of their products for chances to win contests, and nonprofits asking people to “donate a tweet” and pledge a certain amount of money. I even brought up how my favorite TV shows (Pretty Little Liars, American Horror Story & Girls) and their actors tweet before, during, and after new episodes to interact with audience members like myself as well as ask for feedback and promote their own projects. 

Just like one would never compromise her own academic integrity by plagiarizing, one should never compromise her professional or personal integrity online. Perry touched on the fact that social media can be used to increase awareness, share authority or expert opinion, or raise support for a brand or cause in the right way for the right audience. For example, to avoid sending offensive tweets in light of current events, or sending personal tweets from a professional account that would discredit one’s reputation.

 Perry also gave advice about using MT for “modified tweet” and tailoring your message for different social media outlets. She discussed up-and-coming entities like Mashable and Likeable Media, and how transparency is key, relevance is essential, and consumers want to be approached as friends as opposed to corporate targets. 

The thing I enjoyed most about Perry’s presentation is that when she asked if anyone had social media experience with a club or internship, I immediately reflected on my role as social media manager of the marketing campaign for Orange Seeds (first-year leadership program @OrangeSeeds44) last year. I realized the challenges I faced were similar to situations I will have to deal with when I enter the professional world shortly. Overall, Perry’s lecture was informative, entertaining, and inspiring to a student of public relations who has some experience with social media, but can’t wait to pursue it in a more professional way.