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Do We Understand the Vital Role Social Media Plays?
By: Aprel Phelps Downey
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Trouble in the air resulted in a plane crash at the San Francisco airport on Saturday. Within minutes, a single tweet sent from a passenger aboard that flight alerted the world to the events unfolding on the runway that afternoon. David Eun, former AOL media and studios president, typed 140 characters on Twitter indicating that a crash landing had occurred. In a series of tweets that followed he provided updates on passenger well-being, passengers helping one another, and that rescue efforts appeared to be underway. Several other passengers took to social media letting family and friends know they were visibly shaken but otherwise okay. A bystander inside the airport captured the crash on video, sharing it on Twitter and YouTube. Another individual utilized 140 characters to ask for prayers for her dad, a passenger on that flight.
 
Social media interactions from the runway that afternoon reached around the globe. Traditional news media outlets found themselves stranded behind barricades miles away from the accident scene. Each tweet, status update, and image uploaded painted a picture of the heartbreak and rescue efforts of all involved. News channels were forced to rely on these firsthand social media accounts to generate their on-scene breaking news reports as opposed to being at the accident scene themselves. It once again showed the world just how vital social media is when tragedy strikes.
 
Whether it alerts the world to a tragic event or announces the latest business deal, social media has become our first method of communication.
 
We attend a networking event and leave with several new LinkedIn connections. This replaces the method of collecting physical business cards at these events. A new product line coming out or company achievement instantly becomes a tweet or status update. Prior to social media, these events would have been announced to the world in a well-written press release posted in the local newspaper. Social media allows us to keep a watchful eye on the competition, share a highlight from the business day on Twitter, or post a Facebook status update sharing excitement over accomplishing a quarterly corporate goal.
 
Small businesses live by social media while corporate America thrives on its involvement. Basically our business world doesn’t take a step in any direction without involving social media at some point. Business mergers and acquisitions hit social media outlets before the ink dries on the contract. Poor customer service spreads like wildfire through personal and professional connections, virtually sinking a business before it has a chance to respond.
 
Social media pinpoints breaking news as it happens when participants share information within minutes of an event taking place. Yet we often complain about the time-consuming, living in a fishbowl aspect of social media. Instead of complaining, we need to stop and realize the vital role it plays in life. It is our source of information, connection, and motivation. Without it we’d be lost!


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About the Author
Aprel Phelps Downey is a writing/marketing professional who holds more than seven years marketing experience, including all aspects of promotional and informational campaigns and website development.  To learn more about Aprel please visit her website at www.aprelphelpsdowney.com or follow her on twitter: @aphelpsdowney.
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