It’s 2011 and most people agree that social media has become a powerful tool for the dissemination of news, information, content, etc. Platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook have been instrumental in informing people, changing their hearts and minds, making them laugh and cry, and facilitating discussion. As we’ve seen in the past, major news stories like the BP oil spill or the uprisings in the Middle East, have been ideal fodder for social media dialog.
When the tragic disaster in Japan as a result of a massive earthquake and the destruction of a live nuclear power plant in Fukushima, we knew that social media was going to play some role in it. However, there was one uncertain element. Could social media be used to explain and educate people on something as complex as the inner workings of a nuclear power plant. Although people can easily grasp the magnitude of the human suffering associated with this disaster, could they grasp this?
If you take a look at many of the articles, videos, infographics, and photographs covering the incident, you’ll see very effective coverage of a very abstruse event. I think this tells us something very special about social media and its various uses that transcends what people typically think it can do. The fact that social media can effectively educate people on something as complex as peak ground acceleration’s effect on a containment structure shows that it can be used to do other things as equally complex. So what does this mean for business? I’d say it means that businesses in industries that are not typically believed to really need social media can in fact be use it to their advantage.
Let’s say you own and operate a waste water clean up business that is heavily involved in government contracts. Do you think there’s no real use for social media for your business? I’d say you might be wrong. As the Fukushima incident proved, you can use social media to educate people about something difficult to understand. In your case that thing might be how your business has a powerful impact on the environment in local communities. Perhaps a small town has a very polluted pond that needs to be cleaned up but the residents have met resistance with their local government. Although the local government says the issue is that there is not enough funding to clean up the pond, the real issue is that there is very little know-how in regards to planning a clean up. Your company might be able to leverage social media to educate people on how to get their local governments to clean up community ponds. You could use it to guide them in the process and to provide materials on how to do it effectively. Whatever you choose to do isn’t really important, but how you do it can make all the difference. Social media provides an intimate opportunity to do this. So why not use it to your advantage, even if traditional thinking says otherwise.