A few years ago, who would have thought that social media would be one of the most effective ways for emergency services to communicate with the public. Yet, here we are, every local emergency service has either its own Facebook or Twitter page, and they are utilised as the best form of communication about an emergency or a disaster. It’s not just the emergency services themselves that inform the community of potential disasters or threatening situations, local newspaper Facebook pages are also a great way to spread word of emergencies and to warn people what is going on.
The Geelong Advertiser is a great example of how they use their Facebook page to communicate to locals what is happening and where to steer clear of.
They will often post when there has been a car accident, and what streets to stay away from if there has been a bomb, or life threatening scare (often around Whittington).
I’ve chosen the 10 best tips from Matt Murrays blog, 52 tips for social media disaster management, that I believe to be critical in the social media emergency communications.
1) You can do social media disaster management communications anywhere
- as long as there is access to the internet
2) Get information out as soon as possible
- as soon as there is approval, publish to all social media pages
3) Put times and dates on Facebook posts
- To ensure the public that it is still relevant and gives more context
4) Keep a tab on things
- Always look for more information to post, even on other social media sites
5) Make your posts consistent.
- Ensure the public is constantly kept up to date with emergencies.
6) Live tweeting
- Live tweet things such as community meetings and emergency meetings
7) Provide a summary
- Always summarise what is going on, in detail, but not too long so that people forget the main message
8) Reply quick, reply often
- Making sure the people are kept calm and in the loop but quickly replying to queries and questions
9) Crowdsource information and photos
- Ask the locals if they have any photos or information surrounding the disaster or emergency
10) Post hero shots
- Hero shots help to calm the people, knowing that they are in good hands helps to manage the panic