Most recently, with the conclusion of the U.S. debt-ceiling crisis, we see the power of social media manifested in previously unheard of numbers. The day after President Obama's national address in favor of raising the debt ceiling, a local web server was overwhelmed with traffic, eventually crashing several sites. The web host, Fireside21, is a Washington D.C.-based firm aimed at lawmakers. It houses websites of several "celebrity" Republicans, such as Speaker John Boehner and presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, as well as the sites of many prominent Democrats. An overwhelming desire to voice an opinion left most staring at "site unavailable" messages for the day.
This uncanny ability to share, repost, and retweet news as it is currently happening gives new meaning to the term "eye witness" news. When a Pakistani man inadvertently documented the Osama Bin Ladin raid in real-time via Twitter, he was immediately thrust into the limelight and contacted by several major news sources.
Politicians and celebrities alike are coming to understand the power of having a presence in social media. If you're not "there" -- you're losing out on a valuable point of connection with your audience. Communication is no longer relegated to newspaper, television, radio or even the telephone. Integration is quickly outmoding "slower" formers of communication, forcing them to keep up with the "instant"-ness of the internet.