Last night, around midnight, I couldn’t get to sleep. All I could think about was Cyclone Yasi bearing down on Far North Queensland, and wondering whether it had hit yet, and what was going on. Lying in bed, I used my iPhone to search the web for news, and discovered a fantastic page set up on Facebook, updating the world about Cyclone Yasi. When I was online last night at midnight, there were just over 17,000 ‘likes’, but today I can see there are 88,000.
The site was administered by a number of people across Queensland, updating it about the situation in their particular area, posting advice and pictures from the BOM, and keeping people up to date with notices from the local police and emergency services.
While I would argue that the business world has not yet ‘cracked’ social media, Cyclone Yasi shows how useful it is for it’s original ‘social’ purposes. Connecting people with things they are interested in, posting pictures, links and videos, keeping people up to date with the latest news and allowing others to interact.
As a comparison with the #TCYasi tag on Twitter, it is relatively free of spam, because on Facebook you can filter the posts to just the ‘official’ ones, and choose not to read the comments if you don’t want. Twitter is more prone to spam, with there being no control over who can use the hash tags, and what they can use them for.
I also found the Facebook page more useful than news sites, as it was more frequently updated, and free of the ‘flowery’ and ‘filler’ language articles need to include to keep story length to some minimum level.
At this point in time, the TC Yasi Facebook admins have posted over 650 links and 50 photos, which have been seen by over 88,000 people in the last 12 hours.