No words, only respect! The power of social media at #pp11

Wow….that was my first reaction yesterday-evening when I heard the news about the Pukkelpop disaster. What should have been a huge party, turned into a nightmare with (as I’m writing this post)’ 5 confirmed death and many seriously injured. Off course my respect goes out to all those families….

So why blogging about this event….well, it was a very good example on the true power of social media. Where old school media (sms, telephone) failed, Twitter and Facebook stood up to help all those worried people out there. With the #pp11 #ppok people where reaching out to friends and family.

The Twitter community picked it up, and huge Twitterpeople like Bart Dewaele (@netlash) started retweeting messages from people reaching out: saying they where ok, but also offerings for a warm bed, transport, … were retweeted. Many others followed in his footsteps. Twitter even suspended the account of @netlash for a while because they thought he was spamming the network.

Facebook was also used to tell people they where ok…many communities, groups and pages where started for paying respect to the death and injured people. Off course a couple misplaced pages saw the light of day … But communities like ‘RIP slachtoffers noodweer Pukkelpop 11’ already have 52400 ‘fans’ paying there respects!

Who failed…traditional communication networks and ….? The organisation (and local government) did a hell of a job organising shelter, transport, … but forgot to use the social media to communicate through this crisis. This is a pity, because they neglected it’s real power: fast communication to a huge community (who is using it!).

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11 comments on “No words, only respect! The power of social media at #pp11
  1. Melissa Van Moeseke says:

    It was terrible that the horrible hurricane at Pukkelpop injured so many people of which 5 of them died. Instead of having a weekend of lots of fun, the music festival near the city of Hasselt became a nightmare!

    The worst thing to happen was that the visitors to the festival couldn’t reach their family or friends to give them information about their personal safety. All the mobile networks became overloaded, so nobody could send a text message or make a phone call. This created a lot of panic at Pukkelpop, but also outside this festival. The only way to make contact was via social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately not everybody could use this tool because today smartphones or iPhones are still expensive. On top of this, prices of mobile internet are still high in Belgium.

    My first solution would be that in the area of an event or festival, free wireless internet needs to be available for all visitors. That should be even be made a requirement by law if you want to organize an event. My second suggestion is that the prices of mobile internet have to be reduced very quickly in Belgium. If you compare our prices with other countries in Europe, Belgium is very expensive! Better rates will allow more people to use mobile internet. So we can communicate faster and with better connection.

    I also support another idea that an event organizer has the obligation to make a special ‘emergency’ page on Facebook and a Twitter ‘emergency’ account. It should be created before the start of an event or festival, in case of a catastrophe. Also visitors of this event need to have the opportunity to download it as a free app on their iPhones or Smartphones for all types of questions or help.

    I hope that this accident at Pukkelpop will now make all organizers of all types of events realize that changes have to be made. An event should be fun and people should be able to attend without any worry or minimal risks. It is time to look for specialists, the future communication managers….?

  2. I was there, I witnessed the chaos. I couldn’t reach for my mom or nothing. Friends where lost, couldn’t be contacted. One died sadly enough..

    I have spend the night in the Rode Kruis center, where I had the chance to go on FB en Twitter on my phone to say the my friends back home I was okay.

    I remember one friend telling me she had participated in GentHelpt to give shelter for the travelers coming back home in Gent.

    It still gives me goosebumps when I think about it 🙂

  3. I think that everyone was shocked when they heard the news.

    And this is a good example how that’s social media becomes more and more integrated in our society. Now they could warning their family that they are safe, but could you imagine that this was happened 10 years ago? Then could this disaster be a lot worse.

  4. PP 2011 was a good example of how social media can help us in real life. I was surprised people actualy offered a place to sleep to people they didn’t know over social media. A disaster of this proportion brought out the best in many people.

  5. Social media indeed helped a lot of people come into contact with their friends and loved ones during the disaster that occured on pukkelpop. A lot of people were unable to use their cellphones properly to contact others and this made the disaster that much worse. It shows that social media has become so integrated in our society, in our lives, something that was definitely not the case 10 to 15 years ago.

  6. Alfredo Morreel says:

    I was that day 5 kilometers away from the disaster and to me it just looked like a heavy storm.
    Once I turned on my Twitter-app I started releasing there was a disaster going and massive panic emerged.
    Every second more tweets with hash tags came in.

    After the storm and the chaos, it was nice to see people voluntarily offered shelter to the victims and stranded youngsters.
    On the other hand, on Facebook ‘drama queens’ and ‘attention whores’ started making ridiculous fan pages and groups in which of the likes I’ve never seen…

    Besides this disrespect, solidarity ruled the aftermath and people stayed calm.

  7. I think the reason why the organisation of PP11 didn’t turn to social media at first instance is because it is still a fairly new innovation to which not everyone is customised yet. It’s great power is often underestimated, and especially in disaster scenarios people tend to rely on things they know and have been using their entires lives. They fall back on old (and perhaps bad) habits like using a phone to text or call someone, resulting in the fact that they let one person know what was going on. Texting or calling may or may not result in a chain reaction, in which case some 1000s will know the details about what’s going on on the scene. If they would have turned to social media right away, publically announcing the news to millions of twitter and facebook users, everything would’ve gone a lot faster …

  8. As you pointed out very nicely there, the social media was under-used (is that a word?) by the government and organization. Although that’s the only flaw they made, and it’s forgive-able.
    I was there and it was annoying that the traditional communication-methods failed. I’m not the (proud) owner of a blackberry, Iphone, or any other smartphone. I’m limited to texting and calling, so being there and being absolutely unreachable made me feel kind of lost (even though most of my friends were near me).
    Pukkelpop wasn’t only a good example of digital media, but also of word-of-mouth. I was on the campsite, but heard all these rumors about casualties and collapsed tents. So soon enough I figured out me and my friends should leave asap. Not only because we had the feeling that the festival would be cancelled anyway, but also because the last text-message we received was from a friend (in Antwerp), who said there would be a second wave that would be even worse.
    Although the wom was very usefull, is was also very vague and even wrong. Most rumors talked about 6 casualties, but some even talked about 26. So this is as example for me that wom can be very usefull, but can also be misleading!

  9. Mara Van der Auwera says:

    When I heard the bad news about PukkelPop, It shocked me.
    Some friends of mine were there that night and I was worried about them.

    That night on PukkelPop made me realize how social media can help people in bad times like that.
    People with smartphones were able to keep in touch with their families and were able to read the updates about the disaster that happened that night.

    My conclusion is that the impact of social media on people is enormous and that we have to promote the social media to the rest of the world.

  10. The Pukkelpop disaster really gave me goosebumps, and I wasn’t even there. I was checking my Facebook account when I was working in summer when suddenly the news of the horrible scenes that happened in Kiewit. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the first images and videos of this happening, just the fact that a lot of my friends were there made me feel very uncomfortable. After texting, calling, twittering and facebooking I could go to bed with a relieved mind: everybody was okay!

    For a few other people, this party that turned out in a nightmare was fatal. I would like to support the families and friends of the victims, Pukkelpop 2011 will never be forgotten.

  11. Yannick Vercauteren says:

    I wasn’t there myself but a lot of my friend were. The moment it happened I was on my PC. I saw the first post about this horrible hurricane on a Facebook page. I think it was HLN. My first reaction was, it’s a joke, this can’t be true. But I turned on my TV and there was breaking news everywhere about this. I was kinda shocked because half of my class was there and almost everyone from my village was there also. (I couldn’t go because I had to work)

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