The value of Social Media in neighbourhoods and appealing to communities

Posted on 24th January 2013 by

Yesterday a sad thing happened; 2 children went missing. It was presumed at the time that they’d gone of their own volition and they were later found well and safe, but none the less it was an awful thing to happen.

This all happened in Darlaston, 5 miles from my house, in Wednesfield and as such when the press release went out appealing for witnesses we posted it to the WV11 site and Facebook page. We were aware that while the children weren’t strictly from the WV11 area our readership expands beyond our borders, and friends,and friends of friends,  would most definitely cross over into Darlaston and the surrounding areas.

We posted the photo from the appeal along with the copied the police release verbatim,  all we added to the post was two words at the end “please share”

And share people did.

Within an hour 565 people had re-posted the news direct from our facebook page and less than 2 hours later that number had jumped to 1984!

It seems to me 2 things had happened to make the numbers jump like that  – every parent that uses our site could empathise with the  situation these parents were in, no one can imagine, or would want to imagine, what it feels like to find your child missing like that, and going on the old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” everyone wanted to help raise awareness to bring these children home safely.

The other thing that happened was we were there, we were local and we we part of the community and we appealed to them directly with the “please share”!

Darlaston falls under Walsall Council  but it is fairly close to the border with Wolverhampton. Both Councils picked up the police release and shared to their facebook pages, Walsall’s post was shared 20 times, Wolverhampton’s 136.

The local radio station, Free Radio also picked up on it and shared to their page too, Their story was shared 550 times.

Looking at those figures it seems clear that being community based and very local really had an impact on the way the community interacted with the appeal.

The important thing here of course is that the children were found and returned home safe and well,  but as an observation it is interesting how much being part of a community can make a difference

 

 

One Response to The value of Social Media in neighbourhoods and appealing to communities

  1. Dave Harte says:

    This is really interesting. There’s something happening here about the value and trust people place in ‘unofficial’ sources of information. In a recent post on my own blog I was trying to argue that #B31Snowwatch (crowd-sourced snow updates coordinated via the B31 Voices blog) was evidence of valuable citizen participation in creating and sharing new knowledge. As ever, I accidently wound people up in making the point (sorry!) but nonetheless there is evidence in these two examples of a retreat from only recognising ‘offical’ outlets as being the only source or trusted knowledge. Instead there’s a move towards a kind of networked knowledge. I think I was trying to argue that there’s a lack of championing of the citizen role in networked knowledge creation. Or something like that….

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