When your daily routine has become shovel, shiver, repeat, as it has in New England (with 90+ inches of snow in just 3 weeks and a -20 wind chill) digital media may seem like more of a luxury than necessity.
But in fact, it has proven to be an essential tool for many in helping survive this epic winter.
Traditional media outlets – newspapers, television, and radio – continue to play an important role in keeping us informed in times of emergency. However, digital media builds on that foundation by providing for a personalized, two-way connection in the community (even when you can’t even see out your snow-covered windows).
Digital content allows users to find a specific piece of information they need, when they need it, or just to retain a sense of connectivity with their friends and family. Businesses can communicate with customers, and even make sales using e-commerce sites. Government agencies can provide critical information, engage residents, and identify problem areas.
Social media particularly has been invaluable in this tough weather. The local transit authority, for example, has used social media to let riders know whether their buses and trains are an hour late, or just cancelled altogether. And riders have used it to share the news and fill in the blanks for others seeking transportation.
City halls are using Facebook and Twitter to provide updates on parking bans, delays in trash pickup, or hear from residents about streets needing to be plowed.
Homeowners are turning to Facebook to seek out plow drivers, ask for tips on dealing with ice dams, and find out whether school is cancelled for the day.
And businesses can (and should!) use their websites and social media channels to communicate updates to people wanting to know where they can go and what they can do to get out of the house. Let customers know if you are open, whether your Valentine’s Day or President’s Day deals have been extended, or if you have finally received that shipment of snow shovels.
Even sites such as Google Maps come in handy. Imagine wanting to clear out your nearby fire hydrant, but it’s buried under 6 feet of snow and ice. Rather than spending 30 minutes shoveling in hopes of finding it, a savvy user can save time and energy by using Google Map Street View to pinpoint the hydrant’s exact location.
Digital media has caused a seismic shift in how we stay informed, connected, and even well-stocked (with supplies like roof rakes, ice melt, scotch…). Storms may cause hardships, but digital media provides two-way connectivity between retailer and consumer, elected official and constituent, or neighbor and neighbor that makes it easier to get by and weather the storm.