Social Media is a Team Effort

According to a recent study conducted by the American Red Cross, more than half of the general public relies on online news and up to twenty percent use social media to get information about an emergency such as a power outage, severe weather, flash flood, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado.

Emergency social media users are most likely to seek information about weather, traffic, and damage caused by an event, and then share that information along with a reassurance of safety. Of this online population, nearly one third would try an online channel for help, if unable to reach local emergency services.

Mobile applications now tie social media as the fourth-most popular way to get information in an emergency, following TV, radio and online news. The survey found that 20 percent of respondents said they have obtained some kind of emergency information from a mobile app, including emergency apps, those sponsored by news outlets, and privately developed apps.

Other key findings include:Social Media Red Cross Data Infographic

  • Three out of four Americans (76 percent) expect help in less than three hours of posting a request on social media, up from 68 percent last year.
  • Forty percent of those surveyed said they would use social tools to tell others they are safe, up from 24 percent last year.
  • A majority of respondents feel that local emergency response organizations should regularly monitor their websites for emergency requests, roughly half of the general public and 58 percent of the online population doubt that they do.

A well-documented example of using social media during an emergency has been shared by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado.

In March of this year, as the county battled the Lower North Fork fire, a team of twelve Public Information Officers fought the information side of the fire through an integrated public information campaign that heavily utilized social media in support of more traditional media and public information strategies.

By the incident’s end, over 130 blog posts, 450 Twitter posts and an interactive Google map had been shared with the public. The JSCO blog has extensive documentation and analysis of their integrated social media strategy. It provides an excellent road map for best practices using a wide variety of social media channels and tools, and how to prepare a strategy in advance.

Read both reports in detail here:

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