Last week, when blasts shook Mumbai, social media reached a new milestone. When 26/11 attacks happened in 2008, Twitter, the microblogging site, was only just taking off in India, but on 13/7 this year, it became a rallying point. The event on Wednesday showed how social media, which is often dismissed by some as a drag on productivity and a waste of time, can be a platform to rally vital help and action.
During 26/11 in 2008, Twitter was more about just sharing information on the situation itself. This year, Twitter, Facebook and blogs came together to take social media to a new high. With more clear linkages to the mainstream media, whose members both monitor and participate in social media, the platforms became a quick tool to understand “what’s going on out there.”
Of course, there was also a lot of ranting against the government and security authorities, which are bound to reflect in political discussions and action.
New companies have sprung up to make sense of the patterns in the social media. Bangalore-based Vangal Software and Services Pvt Ltd, which has developed “social web” tools is one such.
The overall social media mentions related to Mumbai blasts was approximately 400,000 in just 6 hours, said a Vangal analysis. Notably, it revealed that 23% of the discussions involved sharing a comprehensive list of victims, 21% under “need help” calls and 16% were on blood
donation requirements. Thus, as much as 60% of the mentions would clearly be in the “useful” category — even not counting mentions that have political impact.
Also last week, I met Rohit Kapoor, CEO of business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Exl Service, who said in the Philippines, his company was using social media to recruit people. A social media can serve as a free classified ad or a clarion call, often bringing in quick response.