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The Earthquake felt through Twitter

If this experience does not illustrate the power of social media and how it is changing the way that we experience our lives, consume our news and share information – I don’t know what is. There was an Earthquake in Ontario just now that I did not feel – but heard about via Twitter only seconds after it happened.

With Twitter connections all over Ontario and the world commenting about their experiences, using a Twitter hashtag #earthquake created within seconds after the tremor – and a minimum of 100 tweets per minute coming in with accounts of the tremor experienced from Montreal to Buffalo and beyond – I am getting breaking news not from traditional news outlets but through the twitterverse.

The act of ‘tweeting‘ 140 character soundbites and Social media in general are rapidly affecting the way that we interact, and consume overall media and there is no debating that. I still hear many complaints that there is no measurable ‘ROI’ on spending time building and managing Social media spaces – but I would say specifically using this example to illustrate the way in which communications have changed that we have no choice but to embrace the medium.

Specifically, traditional media and PR professionals must adapt to using channels such as Twitter to gain back lost readers who would consume news traditionally through print, TV and radio. Also – media must participate to stay in the know of breaking news.

Journalists must also be aware of who the ‘influencers’ are within social media spaces – and they need to embrace Twitter as a way to guide the conversation and become the offical ‘voice’ around any major breaking story and not so much report it.

The Globe and Mail and CTV – both major news outlets in Canada were quick to jump into the conversation about the Earthquake – but they were no longer the source of the breaking news as it would have been in the past for news outlets such at CNN.

Many Canadian news giants engaged an already active Twittering community to gather newsworthly insights and facts as to how wide the Earthquake impact had been felt, its scale (reported at 5.5).   Globaltvnews even “twe-ported” (just made that up…sounded good) a mapping depiction of Tweets sent within 30 min after the quake was felt – and the tweet ‘report’ came in only 35 min after the quake.

News outlets making news of Twitter as a source for breaking news – how ironic is that?

I will continue to follow the #Earthquake hashtag as a trending topic now for the next few hours to see where the conversation goes from here – but I would guess that the very way in which the quake was experienced accross Ontario and into New York state via Twitter will be the real story told in the weeks to come.

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