Thank you for being here. I’m glad to be here to talk about my experiences with social media and disaster management. I have a couple of experiences at opposite ends that I’d like to share and compare with you.First is my experience on a spill of national significance in the Gulf of Mexico last summer. I was part of the Creative Services Unit in External Affairs during the Deepwater Horizon Response. The Creative Services Unit had responsibility for social media. My other experience is as block coordinator for disaster preparedness in my Seattle neighborhood. Hopefully from my talk you will discover a range of application for using social media that might help with your mission needs.So where do people look for information? Most likely they Google it. It happens every day, every moment of the day. It will happen during a disaster. When people want information now, they go to the Internet. Traditional media is just that, it is tradition. I apologize for trying to channel Tevye, but traditional media is a ritual that is slowly being broken by quick access to information on the Internet.So there is a new ritual, people seek information first and foremost from the Internet. Following any disaster, emergency management needs to quickly establish on the Internet the Command’s authority and expertise about the disaster. Social media tools are needed to help build authority and to establish the Command as the expert on the disaster. Giving a disaster a name, identifying keywords and using them quickly and strategically in social media will help the command build its authority and help people find the command’s message when they seek information on the disaster.
These are the homepages for the Deepwater Horizon Response site and my neighborhood site. Both homepages promote social media that you are familiar with: Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’ve listed some of the social media products being used. However, there are lots of social media products. New ones come and go every day. So rather than focus on specific social media products, I’ve categorized them and will discuss how the different categories of social media can be used for disaster management.
Web Content Management System The anchor of any the social media effort is a web content management system. WCM for short. A WCM allows for simple, non-technical publication of web content to a site or mobile device. The spill in the Gulf was first reported on the WCM used by Coast Guard District 8 for public affairs outreach. But as soon as it was recognized that the spill was significant, a dedicated WCM was set up and named deepwaterhorizonresponse. Set up was quick, taking only a few hours. The WCM had both external and internal components. The external component was for communication with the public and the internal component was for collaboration with the response team. Comparably, the WCM for my neighborhood has internal and external components. There is an external landing site with introductory, big picture information that I just showed you. It’s linked to another external site which has detailed and comprehensive preparedness information. And there is also an internal site with resources to support neighborhood response and recovery. Some WCMs help you to manage a host of social media tools that are important for disaster management. For example Google Apps can be used to manage sites, maps, email, instant messaging, texting, calendar, documents, photos, video, searches, feeds, alerts, news, blogs, dashboards, and much, much more.Web Document Management and Editing Hand-in-hand with the WCM are document management and editing tools. The gulf response had a suite of tools for document management which included editing, publishing, distribution, reporting, and contact and inquiry management. My neighborhood WCM has similar tools but not nearly as robust. But the neighborhood WCM doesn’t need to be as robust; the audience is small and their needs are different. The neighborhood WCM is used to educate and prepare approximately 20 household for a disaster and to provide support during response and recovery.Blog Blog is short for weblog and is used to describe a web site that maintains an ongoing chronicle of information. No blog was used during Deepwater Horizon Response. But blogging is in integral tool for my neighborhood. Because the external preparedness site is so comprehensive and possibly overwhelming with the amount of information it has, a blog is used for discrete, timely, and targeted distribution of educational information. The blog is set to automatically feed both a social network and a microblog site.Social Network Social networks are user shared content on the web – such as Facebook. In the gulf, Facebook was primarily used as another means of distribution for content approved and published on the WCM. Posts to Facebook consistent primarily of shortened links back to the WCM. In my neighborhood, we are using a Facebook Page for outreach. Content published in the blog will be posted automatically on Facebook with linkage back to the blog. Neighbors become a fan of the Facebook page to receive preparedness information during outreach. But during a response, the neighborhood plans to use a Facebook group for communicating with one another. Each neighbor on the block will be able to monitor the status of one another. Someone from the communications team will be assigned to monitor Facebook throughout the disaster to look for help requests and to update status.MicroblogMicroblogs, like blogs, are user shared content on the web but are limited in size (140 character limit) – such as Twitter. During the gulf response, microblog posts consisted mostly of shortened links to approved content published on the WCM. For my neighborhood, content published in the blog will be posted automatically to Twitter as a shortened link. Every neighbor will follow the Twitter account of the Neighborhood Coordinator to receive periodic educational information during outreach via Twitter. Conversely, the Neighborhood Coordinator will follow each neighbor and during a response someone from the communications team will be assigned to monitor Twitter throughout the disaster to look for help requests and to update status.Multimedia Sharing (Photo, Video, Audio, Presentation) Photos, video, audio, and presentations are powerful tools. During the gulf response multimedia sharing sites were used as a repository for multimedia content. Multimedia was published once and used many times on other social media sites through embedding and linkage. Multimedia was also available from the sharing sites for download by the press or the public. For my neighborhood, multimedia sharing is used to support accomplishment of response task. For example, pre-disaster photographs of people and property and post-disaster documentation of damage. Multimedia is also used to support outreach training and education using video and slide presentations.Authority Building/Branding /SEOBuilding authority is critical for message management. Social authority is developed when you establish yourself as the expert on the disaster. You cannot completely control the message through social media but you can participate in the conversation expecting that you can achieve significant influence. Subcategories are:● Social Bookmarks (Delicious)● Social News (Digg, StumbleUpon)● Wikis (Content-Driven Community)Monitoring/Search This category of social media helps you find out what stories are being told about the disaster and who are the influencers: Google Search, Google Alerts, DailyInfluence, Media Tools.ProductivityThis category helps you be more effective in using other social media tools. Subcategories are:● Dashboards (HootSuite, TweetDeck, Netvibes, Seesmic)● Portals (iGoogle, MSN, Yahoo)● Feed Readers (Google Reader)● Widgets/Gadgets/Stuff (weather, time, news, video, maps)These tools can help you publish, monitor, and gather information from multiple sites or easily display important information.Measuring/AnalysisThese tools are used to track and measure social media content as a way to determine the level and type of interest, and sentiment surrounding a disaster. This was very important during the gulf response. The White House eagerly anticipated these reports.● Search/Social Search (Google, Bing, Yahoo)● Social Measuring/Analysis (Google Analytics, Sysomos, Alexa)Communication This includes email, texting, instant messaging, conferencing, and telephony. Communicating with social media during the gulf response was not as smooth as it could have been. Many of the responding agencies and responders had no prior planning, policy, and practice (or interest) in using social media. Disaster communication using social media requires planning, policy, and practice. For my neighborhood, we have a communication plan that includes social media. and exercises are planned to practice communication with social media. An example is neighbor check-ins by either calling or texting a telephony messaging system. The check-in digitally records a neighbor’s status and someone on the communications team is assigned to monitor and record it.Location-Based Services Not used in gulf. But my neighborhood plans to use online maps and geo-located images to locate properties, utilities, response centers, damage, etc. We plan to use guidance from Washington State’s Map Your Neighborhood program. One use planned for location-based services is to have neighbors with smart phone turn on phone tracking following a disaster. Someone from the communications team will be assigned to track their location. Tracking may help the neighborhood Search and Rescue team find a trapped survivor or let the Neighborhood Coordinator follow and redirect response teams.
So, should you do social media? If you’ve ever used traditional media in the past to get the Command’s message out, you should consider using social media. Social media is quickly supplanting traditional media as the primary source of information for the public, so social media needs to be part of your messaging efforts in the future. I believe that all future disaster responses will require social media skills.
But, can you do social media? Everyone will agree there is not enough time and money to add another task, such as social media, to disaster preparedness. But if you already have an outreach program or are considering one, think about using social media to replace, improve, or enhance existing processes. Integrating social media into outreach can help reduce costs associated with implementing social media for disaster management. Additionally, the same social media infrastructure that you set up for outreach can be used to keep the public informed during an emergency. Use of social media during both outreach and emergencies will help ready your team to use social media tools during a disaster. But a disaster requires that new social media infrastructure be set up to brand it and make the Command’s message easier to find. This must be done quickly and your team probably doesn’t have much experience because disasters seldom happen - at least we hope. Getting neighborhoods involved in using social media for disaster preparedness by providing them guidance and support can help your team get the experience and regular practice it needs to set up a new social media infrastructure. Getting neighborhoods involved in social media for disaster preparedness may also have other benefits.
As part of my neighborhood, I operate on the bottom three levels of this preparedness pryamid. At the lowest level, as myself and part of my family, I have a plan, a kit, and an out-of-state contact. At the next level, as neighborhood coordinator I have responsibility for outreach and to perform the response tasks assigned by the Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepared program. My reports and requests for help go to the closest communication hub then“up-the-pryamid” as appropriate. After a disaster, social media will surround all levels of response. As I said, social media is not controllable, but it maybe somewhat manageable during a disaster. Most social media originates at the lowest level of this pyramid between family and friends.
I suggest turning this pyramid on its head to filter and funnel social media through neighborhood response organizations as a way to help manage social media. Allow neighborhoods to manage social media issues at the lowest level and to funnel those issues that are beyond their resources “down the pyramid” to the next level with more resources. This could be accomplished effectively with your guidance and support.
So to wrap up:● Social media is important (required) for building authority, trust, and delivering the Command’s message to the public during a disaster.● Mitigate the costs of implementing social media for disaster preparedness by using it to replace, improve, or enhance existing processes.● Consider providing neighborhoods social media guidance and support for disaster preparedness.
If anyone is interested in implementing these ideas on a large scale, let me know. Feel free to stop by later to ask me questions; I’d be happy to demonstrate the categories of social media used for DeepwaterHorizon or my neighborhood. I have contact information if anyone would like it. Thank you for letting me share.
Location-Based Services</li></li></ul><li>Should You Do Social Media?<br />Traditional Media<br />Command<br />Message <br />Public<br />Past<br />Future<br />Other Social Media<br />Command<br />Message <br />(Social Media)<br />Direct<br />Public<br />Traditional Media<br />
Can You Do Social Media?<br />(often)<br />Outreach<br />SM Infrastructure<br />(outreach/emergency)<br />(often)<br />Neighborhoods<br />SM Infrastructure<br />(new for each one)<br />(often)<br />Emergencies<br />SM Infrastructure<br />(outreach/emergency)<br />(seldom)<br />Disaster<br />SM Infrastructure<br />(new for each disaster)<br />