Social Media Makes a Difference for Victims of Joplin Tornado

When you jump online during times of disaster, you never know just how much (if at all) you are helping.

When that wretched tornado hit Joplin a few weeks ago, I was glued to Twitter, to Facebook and to the traditional media.  I spread whatever news, avenues of assistence and cries for missing people I possible could.  I even wrote about the beauty of playing a small role in helping to locate a missing family .

I cried about it then.

And today, I felt my heart swell again.

I received this email:

Ms. Smith:

Thank you for recognizing the contributions social media played and
continues to play in the Joplin rebuilding process. I am one of the
the Social Media Specialists for the Greater Ozarks Red Cross
(regional chapter for Joplin office) as well as an administrator for
several of the larger Joplin response SM venues. I was on scene in
Joplin the day after the tornado and worked the shelter Safe & Well
table while sending out content on Facebook. It is important to
recognize that social media worked when cell phones failed there. It
is indeed the new frontier of disaster response and I only see the
fantastic contributions it can make in saving lives and assisting in

Again, thank you for your interest.

Bill Benson
American Red Cross Volunteer

I didn’t save any lives.  I didn’t raise thousands of dollars, but in some small way, I helped.  And this letter from the Red Cross ensures that I will spend dozens of hours in future on disasters just like this one – helping in any small way I can.

Social Media is powerful.

Thank you, Bill Benson, for acknowleding the power of good that comes from Social Media and the people like me who recognize and embrace its power for good.

For Bill’s first hand account of arriving in Joplin to help, read here.


  • Nice nod Ma’am!

  • Danielle Smith

    Thank you so much!

  • Alex

    Very cool.

  • Danielle Smith

    Thank you so much, Alex…. I’m thrilled.

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  • Jo

    Very nice Danielle! It’s great that people see the business end of Social Media is about more than marketing. Without spamming this thread, if anyone’s interested in looking at this further, I’d invite you to follow the work of the lab I’m a member of, EPIC Colorado at CU (Empowering People in Crisis), where my research is focused on looking at how people use social media during disasters. We are assisting authorities and digital volunteers (individuals) to connect and make information dissemination and contact as efficient as possible. You can check out our work at

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