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Using Social Media in Public Communication


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Felicia Song & Masudul Biswas, Louisiana State University. Sea Grant Week 2010

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Using Social Media in Public Communication

  1. 1. Felicia Song & Masudul Biswas Louisiana State University
  2. 2. Social Media & New Communication Potentials User-generated content Networking capacity Interactivity
  3. 3. Social Media Use Today About 73% of American teens and young adults, and 40% of adults aged over 30 used social networking sites in 2009 (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010). SNS users ages 50 and over have nearly-doubled from 22% in 2009 to 42% in 2010 (Madden, 2010). Nearly 1 in 5 Internet users is using Twitter or another service to share & see personal and business updates. (October 2009)
  4. 4. Nuances in the Digital Divides Who is online? From 2000 - 2010, internet users who are black or Latino has nearly doubled—from 11% to 21%. BUT, language, economic disadvantage, and conditions of access still matter.
  5. 5. Nuances in the Digital Divides Of those who are online… Digital access is increasingly mobile, especially for people of color (70% are texting) Nearly ½ of black internet users go to a social networking site on a typical day (vs. just 1/3 of white internet users) 25% of online African-Americans use Twitter & other status update services (vs. 15% of white internet users)
  6. 6. ROLES OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN PANDEMIC COMMUNICATION: A STUDY The study examined the use of social networking sites by the CDC and the WHO in the context of the H1N1 flu outbreak It compared (1) types of messages; (2) relationships to message trends on official websites; and (3) levels of interaction with users
  7. 7. POTENTIALS OF SOCIAL MEDIA Quick & live communication Widget compatible and simultaneously accessible on and from multiple platforms Allows users to interact within network Pushes web traffic to official web sites/web pages
  8. 8. STUDY SAMPLE Content analysis of Twitter updates, Facebook posts, and official website posts/ messages. 243 Twitter updates, 251 Facebook messages and comments, and 222 web site posts disseminated by CDC and WHO, April - July, 2009. Twitter pages: CDCflu, CDCemergency, CDC_eHealth, whonews Facebook pages: CDC and WHO
  9. 9. FINDINGS Types of message content about H1N1 on Twitter, Facebook, and official websites - Investigation or diagnosis - Preventive and safety measure - Treatment issues - Situation updates - “web-promotion” messages
  10. 10. FINDINGS Differences between CDC and WHO usage? WHO: more situation update-related messages on both Twitter and Facebook pages CDC: the CDCflu and CDCemergency posted more messages on situation updates on Twitter pages, and more messages on preventive and safety issues on their Facebook page. Twitter page CDC_eHealth mainly posted web-promotion messages.
  11. 11. FINDINGS Did Twitter and Facebook pages reflect the message- focus of the official websites? WHO - Message postings on Twitter and Facebook pages reflected messaging trends of their official website. - The official website posted more situation updates than messages on investigation, prevention and safety, and treatment.
  12. 12. FINDINGS Did Twitter and Facebook pages reflect the message- focus of the official websites? CDC - The Facebook page reflected the messaging trend of the official website and posted more messages on prevention and safety than other messages. - BUT the combination of three Twitter pages posted more situation updates than other four types of messages.
  13. 13. FINDINGS Did CDC and WHO use Facebook and Twitter for interactivity? Facebook -CDC and WHO did not directly interact or exchange messages with Facebook users. -But Facebook users interacted with other users on the H1N1 flu situation on Facebook pages of the CDC and the WHO.
  14. 14. FINDINGS Did CDC and WHO use Facebook and Twitter for interactivity? Twitter - CDC only shared or re-tweeted the messages from government organizations and other CDC Twitter pages. They did not react to messages of other Twitter users on Twitter. - WHO also did not interact with other Twitter users.
  15. 15. Conclusions & Assumptions Social media function as supportive tools for website-based interventions during a case of outbreak communication, requiring speedy and constant dissemination of essential messages to address situational uncertainty. Both CDC and WHO avoided any engagement or interaction, particularly involving unconfirmed information. The structure of Twitter is more effective in avoiding rumor and misinformation than Facebook in pandemic or emergency situations.
  16. 16. Effective use of Facebook & Twitter Facebook Twitter Educational (in combination with YouTube/podcasting/an online discussion forum) Interaction/Participation Promoting website content Routine & Emergency Updates Monitoring / Crowdsourcing Networking & Creating Lists Promoting website content Promoting researchers (encouraging researchers to tweet) Separate Twitter page for news media
  17. 17. Conclusion: Questions to Address Who is your audience? What is your purpose of communication? What is the nature of your message content?
  18. 18. Social Media Strategies/Planning Issues Oil spill, Seafood safety, rip currents, beaches Nature of Communication Routine OR emergency/ crisis? Identifying Audiences/Publics Priority OR Target external publics? Active OR Passive external publics? Planning & Developing Messages •Informative (research-based OR situational?) •Participatory (for the purpose of idea generation) •Gathering and monitoring public perception/opinion on SEA Grant-related issues