Red Cross has a Hurricane Isaac app for iPhone. the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a Facebook page urging storm victims to relay their experiences. The White House is getting firsthand accounts from Twitter users and bloggers.
Social media's reach may be far greater than Isaac's storm front.
Tens of thousands of relief workers, government officials, hospitals and residents looking for up-to-date information are using social media to stay abreast of what's happening with Isaac. It's another example of just how deeply social-media outlets have embedded themselves in today's world -- particularly when a potential tragedy strikes.
"Now we have social disasters, social emergencies, social earthquakes and social hurricanes," social-media strategist Mari Smith says.
Smith says the phenomenon is everywhere: Thousands of people in a disaster have a smartphone with a recording device in their hand and can share photos and videos instantly.
"We always want to be the first one to get the scoop or share things as an eyewitness," Smith says. "They are capturing this natural disaster in the moment."
YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram users are documenting Hurricane Isaac with jokes, prayers, citizen journalism and safety announcements.
"Social media get the messages out quickly to more people and has 'viral potential,' making it much more powerful," says Jason Falls, CEO of Social Media Explorer, a digital marketing agency. "It's effective, and it's easy."
FEMA has sent more than 100 tweets related to Hurricane Isaac. "Phone lines may be congested during/after #Isaac. Let loved ones know you're OK by sending a text or updating your social networks," FEMA tweeted.
"In a disaster, especially like a hurricane, a lot of people are probably looking for aid, shelter, clean food and water," Falls says. "Now there is one easy place to find all of that information in one place -- someone's Twitter feed."
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