The Power of Social Media: Support for Caroline

carolineCaroline 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.

Update:

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

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  • We do what we can.

    Glad to hear Caroline is in a good place now.

    Also, Adam, you may want to consider editing the above links to be the specific tweet, e.g. this one from MC Hammer, so readers can see what they wrote, and not merely visit their main twitter page.

  • We do what we can.

    Glad to hear Caroline is in a good place now.

    Also, Adam, you may want to consider editing the above links to be the specific tweet, e.g. this one from MC Hammer, so readers can see what they wrote, and not merely visit their main twitter page.

  • Hi Adam its @helpfindmychild here, last night really showed the power of twitter, overjoyed when we heard Caroline was alive and located, thinking of them all today x

    Though we’d post a little on our twitter experience – we are a online volunteer group raising profiles of missing children and working on some cases directly for family’s in various ways, twitter is something we recently joined. One of our followers received a tweet about Caroline and let the author know about our group, they got in touch seconds later to see if we could help too, up when our blog and volunteers spent the night tweeting and sending out via our other channels until the wonderful news broke Caroline had been found alive.

    The Twitter community has made it possible to get information out to the area’s it counts and back again with in seconds often hours before the main news channels are reporting – we have been so very impressed by the help and response we continue get for missing children worldwide through our twitters, very proud members.

    *little plug* = follow @helpfindmychild because who knows 1 tweet might help bring a missing child home !

    Thanks adam all the best to ya!

  • Hi Adam its @helpfindmychild here, last night really showed the power of twitter, overjoyed when we heard Caroline was alive and located, thinking of them all today x

    Though we’d post a little on our twitter experience – we are a online volunteer group raising profiles of missing children and working on some cases directly for family’s in various ways, twitter is something we recently joined. One of our followers received a tweet about Caroline and let the author know about our group, they got in touch seconds later to see if we could help too, up when our blog and volunteers spent the night tweeting and sending out via our other channels until the wonderful news broke Caroline had been found alive.

    The Twitter community has made it possible to get information out to the area’s it counts and back again with in seconds often hours before the main news channels are reporting – we have been so very impressed by the help and response we continue get for missing children worldwide through our twitters, very proud members.

    *little plug* = follow @helpfindmychild because who knows 1 tweet might help bring a missing child home !

    Thanks adam all the best to ya!

  • Ari – great suggestion, all links to folks mentioned point to their actual tweets. And thanks for your help last night too!

    Taya – Thanks again and happy to help, that kind of “plug” is the right one to point people to. Keep up the great work!

  • adam

    Ari – great suggestion, all links to folks mentioned point to their actual tweets. And thanks for your help last night too!

    Taya – Thanks again and happy to help, that kind of “plug” is the right one to point people to. Keep up the great work!

  • Adam great post. I have some additional thoughts about the negative side of social media, which also has started to show up in this story. The first problem I have is with some of the trolls that are commenting within the news story…a shame that the kinds of comments not being moderated are making it through the Sun Times moderation team (if one exists). This was a huge problem for Yahoo News within their comment functionality, and eventually caused them to scrap it due to the trolls out there. I guess it is just human nature that someone is going to have gripes about helicopter gas or automatically assume she spent the night out – but it feels even worse to read that kind of stuff when the subject is someone who is close to a personal friend.

    The other thing I have seen which is a little questionable are some of the comments in the twitter feed. In particular, one “twitterer” was receiving accolades simply because they had posted re-tweets of the issue – as to “how caring they really are.” As someone who enjoys giving anonymously, this was particularly crass in my opinion as it appeared as some community members and their followers/evangelists were taking advantage of this story for personal reputation enhancement.

    Don’t get me wrong – this is a great story about the positive power of social media. Unfortunately part of any community is a darker side which about I feel is worth cluttering your comments with my gripes. 🙂 I certainly hope that Caroline is OK.

  • Adam great post. I have some additional thoughts about the negative side of social media, which also has started to show up in this story. The first problem I have is with some of the trolls that are commenting within the news story…a shame that the kinds of comments not being moderated are making it through the Sun Times moderation team (if one exists). This was a huge problem for Yahoo News within their comment functionality, and eventually caused them to scrap it due to the trolls out there. I guess it is just human nature that someone is going to have gripes about helicopter gas or automatically assume she spent the night out – but it feels even worse to read that kind of stuff when the subject is someone who is close to a personal friend.

    The other thing I have seen which is a little questionable are some of the comments in the twitter feed. In particular, one “twitterer” was receiving accolades simply because they had posted re-tweets of the issue – as to “how caring they really are.” As someone who enjoys giving anonymously, this was particularly crass in my opinion as it appeared as some community members and their followers/evangelists were taking advantage of this story for personal reputation enhancement.

    Don’t get me wrong – this is a great story about the positive power of social media. Unfortunately part of any community is a darker side which about I feel is worth cluttering your comments with my gripes. 🙂 I certainly hope that Caroline is OK.

  • I was completely in awe last night as we sat in front of our computers watching the support for Caroline happen in real time. Whether people were using it for personal gain or not doesn’t really matter to me. Because if they sent a tweet that resulted in someone else sending it and they in turn reached 1000s of others, that’s the power of social media and community. I am still very humbled by the power of social media from last night and I’m forever grateful for everyone who took a minute to RT the information when they weren’t even personally connected to the story. A huge THANK YOU to everyone.

  • I was completely in awe last night as we sat in front of our computers watching the support for Caroline happen in real time. Whether people were using it for personal gain or not doesn’t really matter to me. Because if they sent a tweet that resulted in someone else sending it and they in turn reached 1000s of others, that’s the power of social media and community. I am still very humbled by the power of social media from last night and I’m forever grateful for everyone who took a minute to RT the information when they weren’t even personally connected to the story. A huge THANK YOU to everyone.

  • Adam, great news. This is truly the power of social media. In regards to what Chris said, there is always going to be that disingenuous element regardless of the situation. Without truly knowing what the person’s motivation is, I would like to err on the side of good and assume that their intentions were noble. Let’s not forget the viral aspect of a RT. It can be exponential and thus any info about Caroline missing, regardless of the delivery, was better than no info. Bottom line is that the outcome was a happy one. period.

  • Adam, great news. This is truly the power of social media. In regards to what Chris said, there is always going to be that disingenuous element regardless of the situation. Without truly knowing what the person’s motivation is, I would like to err on the side of good and assume that their intentions were noble. Let’s not forget the viral aspect of a RT. It can be exponential and thus any info about Caroline missing, regardless of the delivery, was better than no info. Bottom line is that the outcome was a happy one. period.

  • I found this article and I just wanted to add my own two cents. I called Liz Strauss http://www.successful-blog.com/ who was able to Tweet (Friend of @momofteenstwit2 -> Highland Pk teen – STILL MISSING! http://is.gd/klPo – Pls RT) That tweet was sent by 10:00 am and when I got home after the search, Liz had reached hundreds of people who were able to retweet, so I just wanted to thank Liz Strauss and all of the wonderful people who were able to help just to name a few @GeekMommy, @emom, @FitBizWoman, @MizFitOnline @ MelissaKellas so many more, I will do a follow up post with some of the photos I took of the search and the kids Facebook stories.

  • I found this article and I just wanted to add my own two cents. I called Liz Strauss http://www.successful-blog.com/ who was able to Tweet (Friend of @momofteenstwit2 -> Highland Pk teen – STILL MISSING! http://is.gd/klPo – Pls RT) That tweet was sent by 10:00 am and when I got home after the search, Liz had reached hundreds of people who were able to retweet, so I just wanted to thank Liz Strauss and all of the wonderful people who were able to help just to name a few @GeekMommy, @emom, @FitBizWoman, @MizFitOnline @ MelissaKellas so many more, I will do a follow up post with some of the photos I took of the search and the kids Facebook stories.

  • Hi Adam,
    We were all watching and grateful to hear that Caroline made it home. I had two people affected by her disappearance so I felt very much involved. A sigh of relief was heard across Twitter when the news began to spread. It was the passing of the information that really counted. Thank you for making sure that I knew.

  • Hi Adam,
    We were all watching and grateful to hear that Caroline made it home. I had two people affected by her disappearance so I felt very much involved. A sigh of relief was heard across Twitter when the news began to spread. It was the passing of the information that really counted. Thank you for making sure that I knew.

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  • Chris, Mark – I agree there can be disingenuous elements of any situation. There also can be a “telephone game” effect – at one point it was suggested on Twitter that I was a relative. At another point an incorrect link was shared to a photo of Caroline, which instead pointed to a toilet – it was an accident. The communication channels aren’t perfect, but I agree with Mark’s bottom line: Caroline is home safe.

    Beth, Liz – Thank you for sharing that – I didn’t go far enough back in the search.twitter.com history to see what was out there, Liz definitely mobilized a great response from her network. I’ve added her to an update in the post. Liz, thanks so much for taking the time and for your thoughts and response.

  • adam

    Chris, Mark – I agree there can be disingenuous elements of any situation. There also can be a “telephone game” effect – at one point it was suggested on Twitter that I was a relative. At another point an incorrect link was shared to a photo of Caroline, which instead pointed to a toilet – it was an accident. The communication channels aren’t perfect, but I agree with Mark’s bottom line: Caroline is home safe.

    Beth, Liz – Thank you for sharing that – I didn’t go far enough back in the search.twitter.com history to see what was out there, Liz definitely mobilized a great response from her network. I’ve added her to an update in the post. Liz, thanks so much for taking the time and for your thoughts and response.

  • Adam,

    As I mentioned, I was with my boys when we fist heard. We saw the picture and were immediately concerned for her safety. Any parent is terrified of this type of scenario. So glad she’s ok.

  • Adam,

    As I mentioned, I was with my boys when we fist heard. We saw the picture and were immediately concerned for her safety. Any parent is terrified of this type of scenario. So glad she’s ok.

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  • Adam, I am so glad Caroline is safe and at home. I saw the tweets happening and was relieved that so many folks used social media as a means to an end. I truly see more people being kinder and more “human” because of our online relationships. It’s possible that social media is exposing more of the compassionate side of us all, making the good stand out starkly in contrast to all the negative news that hits us regularly. Maybe that’s just a hidden benefit of social media – the information we share is more good than bad.

  • Adam, I am so glad Caroline is safe and at home. I saw the tweets happening and was relieved that so many folks used social media as a means to an end. I truly see more people being kinder and more “human” because of our online relationships. It’s possible that social media is exposing more of the compassionate side of us all, making the good stand out starkly in contrast to all the negative news that hits us regularly. Maybe that’s just a hidden benefit of social media – the information we share is more good than bad.

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  • David – so true, I think this resonated strongly with anyone who was a parent. Thanks again for your help and willingnewss to share with your network.

    Debra – I agree, there is something about online relationships that incent people to bring out their good side especially when it’s transparent. Anonymously, that can be a different story. I hope the “good” trend continues and one day social media will really directly impact situations like these. Thanks for dropping by!

  • adam

    David – so true, I think this resonated strongly with anyone who was a parent. Thanks again for your help and willingnewss to share with your network.

    Debra – I agree, there is something about online relationships that incent people to bring out their good side especially when it’s transparent. Anonymously, that can be a different story. I hope the “good” trend continues and one day social media will really directly impact situations like these. Thanks for dropping by!

  • I’m glad Caroline was found and is safe. Amber alerts and social media can play a huge impact on getting the word out about a cause or emergency. We should start a #911 hashtag for similar situations.

  • I’m glad Caroline was found and is safe. Amber alerts and social media can play a huge impact on getting the word out about a cause or emergency. We should start a #911 hashtag for similar situations.