Social Media Involvement in the wake of Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

March 11, around 10 pm in Colorado my phone charmed as CNN sent breaking news that “a 8.9 magnitude Earthquake hit Japan” straight to my mobile phone.  As we slept overnight the Earthquake and a Tsunami destroyed many towns and estimated 10 thousand people are dead or missing.

In the wake of such a horrific disaster, it is human nature to respond in a helping way.  User-generated content through social networking sites have been the most used tools information sharing and group gathering these past few years especially in time of global disasters.

Social Media as a News Source

Breaking news especially when related to natural disasters transforms social media into world-wide support and credible news source. Television new source replayed amateur videos originally posted on YouTube displayed credible tweets from RedCross organizations and  real time tweets from Japan.

Smart phone have reshaped the traditional journalism in that journalist now rely on real time social media for their news sources. The coverage of Japan on big name new station majority of video footage was amateur video shared originally on YouTube.

Provided By Pew Research Data

Provided By Pew Research Data

The web was swarming tweets, status about Japan.

“The blogosphere offered a place to release and share emotional responses to the disaster and calls for support for the Japanese people” Japan Crisis Overtakes Social Media

During the week of March 14-18, 32% of all tweets evolved the topic of Japan.

Trending topic, new sources, political figures, celebrities all re-tweeted the same RedCross tweet informing how to donate only 10 dollars through your cell phone bill.

Screen shot of tweet

We have seen this new type of donating of effective fundraiser in past natural disasters such as the Hati Earthquake raised 5 million only through text donations according to  Mashable

The total raised for Japan has been significantly less then Haiti at 1.5 million according to CNN

Facebook Involvement

We saw Facebook use multimedia more through individual status as well as specific organizations pages. Facebook is a great platform to share videos, photos and links on and easy to use share options allowed news about Japan to spread more easily.

Facebook unlike Twitter encourages conversation sparking people to express emotional responses and grief as well as encouraging thoughts.

After the quack specific groups were created focusing on relief and rehabilitation for Japan in all forms. Each group has photo galleries, link page to documents, news articles, videos and a discussion board.

  • WeSupportJapan Facebook page has over 24 thousand followers since the earthquake struck japan.
  • Global Disaster Facebook page focus on the broader subject of global disaster news, with over 500 thousand followers, this Facebook page post stories focusing on Japan and anything contributing to relief.

Impact from other social media

Living Social a social networking site focused on daily deals an   d consumer saving, offered a coupon donate $10 dollars through their SNS for japan relief. The coupon lasted twice as long then the site normally allows and ended up raising over 2 million dollars

Success behind these online campaigns

Between the text and  LivingSocial sucessful campaigns to raise an amazing amounts just through social media, one thing is common is the small request of money each one offeres to donate.

The text campaign was only $10 charged to your cell phone bill and the living social was only 25.

“People are more likely to give if they see that a non-profit can’t fulfill its donation goal with just one donation…Those micro donations often get charities to their goals, or above them, more quickly than holding out for large lump sums.” Mashable

With each significant world event such as Japan earthquake we are learning how to utilize these new communication tools to the fullest.


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