24 October 2009

Two Recent Scary Incidents: Northwest Airlines A320 Overflies Airport and Delta 767 Lands on Taxiway by Mistake

This episode reviews two events from the week of October 19, 2009 that could have become major airline disasters. In Atlanta, a 767 landed on the taxiway instead of the runway, and in Minneapolis an airline crew stopped communicating with the outside world for over an hour while flying past its destination by well over 100 miles.

More detailed descriptions of these two incidents are in the AirSafeNews.com article from 23 October 2009. The podcast of this article, which you will find below, is a bit unusual. Until now, the Conversation at AirSafe.com has always been hosted by Dr. Todd Curtis. This show features a computer-generated voice. We ask you to listen to the show and evaluate it for us.

Northwest Airlines A320 Overflies Airport and Delta 767 Lands on Taxiway by Mistake (4:37)

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16 October 2009

The Evolution of AirSafe.com's Use of Social Media - Why You or Your Organization Should Follow That Example

The January 2009 ditching on the Hudson River showed how important social media was as a source of news and information, and it also showed how freely available social media resources can sometimes allow an individual to be as influential as the largest news media organization. This show provides a general definition of social media and then provides specific examples of how it was used by AirSafe.com to expand the site's audience and to enhance the usefulness of the site's information.

This episode of the Conversation at AirSafe.com is based on a presentation Dr. Todd Curtis gave at the 2009 Bird Strike North America Conference in Victoria, Canada. The original audience was full of aviation safety professionals and wildlife biologists, but the subject of the presentation was relevant to any organization trying to figure out how to use social media more effectively.

Listen to the Podcast

The Evolution of Social Media's Role at AirSafe.com (7:02)

The role of social media in aviation safety community was previously covered in this site, as well as at the AirSafe.com site BirdStrikeNews.com

Previous AirSafeNews.com Articles
How to Include Free AirSafe.com Content in Your Site
AirSafe.com Creates Online Radio Station

Previous BirdStrikeNews.com Articles
Social Media's Role in Airline Safety
How AirSafe.com Uses Twitter with a Mailing List
Ten Free Social Media Things You Can Do

Another site with related information is AirSafe-Media.com.

Show Transcript

Welcome to the Conversation at AirSafe.com, I'm your host Dr. Todd Curtis

This is show #99 - The Evolution of Social Media's Role at AirSafe.com

This show is based on a presentation I gave at the 2009 Bird Strike North America Conference in Victoria, Canada. The original audience was full of aviation safety professionals and wildlife biologists, but what I talked about is relevant to any organization trying to figure out how to use social media more effectively.

In the aviation safety world, the January 2009 ditching of a US Airways flight in the Hudson River was a rare combination of a spectacular plane crash that generated massive worldwide attention without killing anyone. It was also big wake up call to the aviation safety community about the growing importance of social media to their work.

As many of you know, the plane went down as a result of a midair collision with a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from New York's La Guardia Airport. While most people were impressed by the skill of the pilots and the response of the rescuers, the event served as an excellent example of how popular social media applications like Twitter have changed how the public finds out about newsworthy events.

While the accident took place in New York City, on the doorsteps of the biggest and most important mass media organizations in the United States, many of the early images from the crash didn't come from the traditional news media, but from witnesses. One of the most well known photos was from the cell phone camera of Janis Krums, a passenger on one of the ferry boats that helped to rescue passengers and crew. The picture was quickly uploaded from Janis's iPhone and became one of the most famous images from the accident.

Twitter wasn't the only social media application working overtime that day. Video sharing sites like YouTube were flooded with user-generated content that collectively had hundreds of thousands of views within a day.

The "Miracle on the Hudson" showed how an average eyewitness of a dramatic news event like a plane crash can easily distribute images and other newsworthy information that could reach hundreds of thousands in a matter of minutes, something that only a large media company could do only a few years ago.

This crash also showed that organizations that use the Internet to communicate with the public needed more than just a web site or a blog to keep their online audience informed. They need more than web sites and blogs because that audience is using emerging social media tools to develop different kinds of ongoing relationships with other users, and to find news and other information.

You might be asking yourself, what the heck is social media? The quick answer is that social media is any online resource or personal computer software that lets you easily create, share, or consume online content with others. Many of the tools are based online, don't charge for the service, and don't force you to have any kind of specialized knowledge to make them work.

Some examples you might know are blogging tools like Blogger and WordPress, microblogging tools like Twitter, video sharing sites like YouTube, and document sharing services like Google Docs.

Now that you know what it is, you might ask yourself why should I care? The biggest reason is that social media is changing online behavior by giving individuals and small groups the ability to connect with other people that was either not possible or very difficult even a few years ago. The last reason is that it adds a whole lot of online capabilities that you can use to your advantage.

Let me explain with an example from AirSafe.com. When the site was first launched in 1996, communication was mostly in one direction, from the web site to the world. Online publishing was very resource intensive, and the best tools were controlled by large organizations.

The best option I had for contacting individuals was email. The only way I could communicate with groups was with the web site. The site was like a Swiss army knife because it had to do several different things for the audience. The only major function that was outside of the site was the mailing list, which was managed by a third-party service provider.

In the early years, search engines played a huge role because that was how most people found the site. Like many sites, AirSafe.com suffered from mission creep, with more and more functions and content being added to the site until things got out of hand.

What social media does is take some of the functions, especially marketing and communications-related functions, and puts them outside of the web site.

For AirSafe.com's transition to using social media, I still kept the basic web site plus the mailing list, and search engines were still a key partner, but I set out to figure out which of the many social media tools would do something useful for the site.

I chose some to play a support role, like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Flickr, and others to play a more central role like Blogger, Feedburner, and Twitter.

Here's how social media changed how I used my mailing list. Before, I'd use the mailing list to tell subscribers about news items or to tell them about new content on the site. Now I use a blog site that has all those news items and update notices. I also use Feedburner, a service that can do many things, including creating code that I could put into any web site and use to automatically generate updated links to the news blog.

When a new article is posted in the blog, Feedburner sees it and tells the mailing list system and Twitter to inform all of the subscribers, while adding links in the web site that point back to the blog article.

Adding resources like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook expanded the reach of the site by providing additional opportunities for potential audience members to begin their relationship with AirSafe.com.

I went from a system where I had to manually update most of the site to one where a single action, like adding to the news blog, automatically updates several web sites and social media accounts, including Facebook, and sends messages to mailing list and Twitter subscribers.

Growing the audience was also easier, because every additional social media tool gave me new ways of attracting and serving a larger audience.

Another question you may have about social media is what's in it for me? In the AirSafe.com example, using social media cut down on the workload and extended the site's reach. Social media tools also gave AirSafe.com additional ways to share content, and to address different audience needs. In AirSafe.com's case, that meant having the ability to reach out to those who didn't want to rely on search engines or email announcements to stay in touch.

Yet another question you may have is why should I do anything new in social media? There are two simple reasons. First, the trends in online behavior are clearly moving toward the use of social media. Facebook and Twitter are two of the biggest household names, but there are dozens of other services that are out there that give businesses and individuals many more options for communicating and getting work done. Second, you have to stay ahead of the competition. Ignoring social media today could be as least as dangerous as ignoring search engines a few years ago, or ignoring the web a few years before that.

If you don't include social media as part of your online plan, you will just make it harder for your online efforts to work for you, and easier for your competitors to take away your audience or your customers.

For additional information about how AirSafe.com has used social media, and suggestions for social media tools you should consider using, visit socialmedia.airsafe.org.

Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time.