From Taylor Reed…Throughout this trip it’s amazing to see how much technology we’ve used. Flip cameras to film each of our speakers, iPhones granting us access to Internet while traveling cross-country and boundless communication via social media accounts. Five, ten years ago we wouldn’t have had the opportunities to share the experiences we encountered with you. The British Petroleum “gusher” is the first opportunity for our nation to constantly communicate and regulate a crisis through social media.
Every individual agreed, that when harnessed properly, social media opens doors that never have been around before. The Coast Guard created a Web site dedicated completely to the gusher, non-profits used YouTube accounts to spread the word and cities used Facebook to update potential visitors about the oil washing on shore. Following hurricane Katrina social media wasn’t available for individuals to communicate, forcing individuals to get information from the formal news media. Now almost five years later, sites like Twitter and Facebook allow individuals, cities, nonprofits and organizations to spread their message without relying on reporters. By not having to rely on formal media, the individual has an opportunity to get the unregulated, uncut story. Creating a desire for the “real deal” in society.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau is a perfect example of how social media accommodated society’s desire for honesty and transparency. The Alabama Gulf Coast CVB created thebeachfacts.com, a site with daily video updates and instant two-way communication via Facebook and Twitter accounts. Even when oil was on the beaches the Alabama Gulf Coast CVB didn’t try to hide it. The film showed the oil, even though it wasn’t in their short-term best interest. Having social media allowed the Alabama Gulf Coast CVB to tell their story, which is completely different from what the national media was presenting. This allowed potential tourists to create their own opinions and decisions about the beaches, based on fact not opinion.
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