Caroline Stitcher is home. Details of her disappearance from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening are still being determined, but she is with her family which is all that counts.
Given that outcome, I thought it would be helpful to highlight the power of social media. I am both amazed and humbled by the outpouring of support on Twitter and other channels, and wanted to capture it here. If anyone is still doubting the compelling viral nature of the technology, this should help convince them that it’s here to stay.
Starting on Facebook
On Saturday morning, Doug, a colleague from work, posted the following note in Facebook:
My god daughter has been missing now since yesterday afternoon. She went running by herself after school. Her friends saw her leave and she has not returned. We are all very frightened, as you can imagine. Please pray for her and her family. If you have friends at church who pray for people in trouble, please let them know about Caroline.
Several folks from work commented, and later in the day Doug posted that he was leaving Cleveland for Chicago with two of his sons to help with the search. He also shared a link to the Chicago Sun Times article with the story (which has continued to be updated with the latest information). What transpired after that is nothing short of remarkable.
Outpouring of Twitter Support
Angela Moore, Jon Anhold, Chris Boggs (all folks who have worked with Doug) and I all started to share an article from the Chicago Sun Times on Twitter and Facebook, outlining Caroline’s disappearance and information to reach the Deerfield, IL police department. I reached out to several Chicago based contacts on Twitter, and the retweeting began. David Armano [blog] added a hashtag #Caroline to be able to track on search.twitter.com, and was kind enough to respond to his network asking for people to retweet as much as possible. Some other notes:
- Several others began appealing to those with large constituencies on Twitter to help in the retweet effort. Amber Naslund [blog], Chris Brogan [blog], Mack Collier [blog], Jessica Smith [blog] and Julia Roy [blog] were among the many to respond and share with their networks.
- MCHammer, Kevin Pollak, Soleil Moon Frye and Wil Wheaton were among the celebrities that responded.
- Several groups conversing on Twitter at the time also shared the news, including #typeamoms.
- Services like HelpFindMyChild and the TrueCrimeReport picked up the news.
- By 8:30PM ET, #Caroline hit #1 on twitter trends.
- The Sun Times article showed up on Digg and started to get some momentum.
- A Facebook group named, “Help Find Caroline Stitcher” approached 3000 members by late evening.
- All in all I’m sure thousands were reached – I’m working on digging up a report on number of mentions and the likely reach of the viral effect and will share it when it’s ready.
At the end of the day on Saturday, the good news broke that Caroline had returned home via a text message Doug sent me. A few minutes later Chicago Breaking News confirmed the details, and another round of “good news” retweets went out.
The Power of Social Media and Thank You
Take a look at search.twitter.com for #Caroline and drop back a few pages to what transpired during the wave of the evening spike. The support really speaks for itself. Here’s to a speedy recovery, Caroline – there’s no harm in that happening as fast as the news spread.
A very sincere thank you to the broad Twitter community for helping out and responding with your thoughts and retweets. Not this time, but I will not be surprised if community through social media tools one day is directly responsible for solving another situation like this one. In terms of my involvement, I’d like to think friends at work would take a moment to do the same if the situation were reversed.
Doug has shared another note on Facebook at 1:30am Sunday morning which I figured I would post here too:
Caroline is alive and we have her now
We are all unbelievably relieved and happy. Caroline is alive and with her loved ones now. No details have been sorted out, yet. As you can imagine, there are lots of people caring for her and it will be a while before the complete their work.
I also wanted to recognize several other Twitter MVPs who helped spread the word with fervor last night. Liz Strauss [blog] was already aware of Caroline’s situation and had engaged her network before I had contacted her. Dave Kerpen [blog] made several appeals to parents – as a father of three boys perhaps that was part of my motivation to help Doug. Senia Maymin [blog] also did a terrific job of asking celebrities and others with large networks to retweet the information. Thanks again everyone.
Photo credit: Deerfield, IL Police Dept