Social Media Takes the Role of ‘Church’ in Times of Need

Social Media Takes the Role of ‘Church’ in Times of Need

Recent research reveals underscores the important role social media played during, and after, the Christchurch earthquake.

Ekant Veer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Canterbury, found that social media unexpectedly became a gathering place for communities during earthquakes. Strategi marketing online saat ini di media sosial, bagaimana postingan produk bisa memiliki engagement rate luaxs, cara promosi di instagram menjangkau banyak orang dan memiliki tingkat interaksi dengan followers/subscribers tinggi.Veer noted that affected people are increasingly using social networks to ask for help, provide information and provide support.

With the city going through turbulent times – many buildings becoming unsafe for occupation and transport links broken – social sites take on roles traditionally held by community halls and churches.

The lecturer who revealed his findings ahead of the Australasia Natural Disaster Management Conference monitored various social networks after the earthquake and recorded his findings. Amazingly, it was found that people use social media for ‘immediate and timely updates’. In addition to providing practical information, such as where to find clean water and food, social media is important in supporting those severely affected and creating a great sense of community.

Some notable players during the earthquake included Geonet and Civil Defense who tweeted regular and helpful updates. The hashtag #eqnz also came into play, helping to enhance the informative element that became so significant. News channels, while still important in informing the public as a whole, cannot keep up with the instant updates that social media boasts of. In addition, the earthquake has led to heavier use of the platform and claimed more users.

Positive report

At a time when social media constantly pops up in negative news articles, this is something that reaffirms the importance of playing it.

The Christchurch earthquake cannot be viewed in isolation as social sites have played an important role in other natural disasters. The disaster in Japan, for example, saw a huge spike in social media use, with users expressing their support under hashtags like #prayforJapan and posting ways in which others could help or donate.

Similarly in Australia, a Facebook page was created when it was announced that Cyclone Yasi was about to hit Queensland. This page provides key updates, information, and a place for users to connect. Further studies show that the use of social media ‘during natural disasters is comforting, empowering and can limit psychological damage’. Obviously, it helps fulfill a number of functions in times of need.

Two sides

Although social media is touted as one of the catalysts behind the London riots, it is evident after how the good side beats the evil. Initially, social media helped gauge public opinion, showed how unpopular riots were, and brought people and communities together in combating the situation at hand.

A Facebook page and Twitter account were created, along with the hashtag #riotcleanup, encouraging people to take action to help their city. In turn, it garnered tons of ‘likes’ and retweets, as well as receiving further exposure with inspirational images from the communities cleaning up their city. A similar movement took place in Vancouver following riots there in June 2011.

When the dust finally settles down, social networks also take on an important role in distinguishing those who were part of the riots. Authorities were made aware of images depicting the individuals involved and those using social networks to incite trouble. In addition, users are encouraged to share any information they have regarding the rioters.

Although not a natural disaster, this riot also shows the role of social media as a ‘church’. It’s clear that this helps promote community and allows people with no previous connections to work together for the greater good. In addition, social media promotes support for individuals affected by the event. The informative element should also not be forgotten because users can immediately follow the development of significant changes and information.

It’s all too easy to criticize social media these days, but perhaps one should look back on this event to realize the important role it played. If it weren’t for these social networks, the essential help, information and support would probably be much less than before, and not at all that fast.