Social media wildfire

Published 8:43 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

I’ve expressed my amazement before at how social media can have a practically immediate impact on an assorted variety of topics.

A simple yet lightning-fast series of events can serve as evidence to us all that social media used properly and effectively is a powerful tool.

Tuesday, a woman from Mobile walked into the Demopolis Times office distraught. She’d come to town to visit for the holidays and her dog ran away.

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She had to return to Mobile initially without her beloved pooch and came back this week to place the “lost dog” ad and search again until the last possible minute.

It was past our deadline for classified ads in the Wednesday edition, but knowing that this nice woman needed the help of our readers so bad, we made it work.

She gave us a description and a photo of her dog. I posted the photo of the woman and her dog to our Facebook page soon after the lady handed me the disk and asked our 1,500-plus “friends” if they had any information, to please share it in the comment section.

Within six minutes we had a lead. Within eight minutes, the person who found the dog posted that she still had it.

We gave her the woman’s number and less than one hour from the time she walked into our office, she had her dog back.

That’s incredible.

It’s almost unbelievable.

Maybe it was lightning in a bottle, but I don’t think so.

I think it shows the power of a tool – like the newspaper – and its reach with a vehicle like Facebook.

Harnessing that kind of energy – that audience, that influence, that “tuned in” viewership – is a powerful instrument for change; be it breaking news, finding lost pets or spreading a message.

The evolution of communication is a fascinating process. I’m excited to be a small part of it.

Jason Cannon is publisher of the Demopolis Times.