Emergency managers and public safety officials are increasingly using Twitter and Facebook to get information out to the public. Social media can be a terrific way to get mass emergency notifications to the public. But the reach and effectiveness of these tools varies a lot from agency to agency. Here are three things to do to make your social messaging more effective for emergency alerts:
- Standardized vocabulary. We’ve seen at least 2 recent papers talking about this in the past 6 months. Standardized wording – especially hashtags – makes it easier to find and organize posts about an emergency. One idea: consider issuing an official hashtag for the public to use when posting information about a specific event.
- Easy readability. Emergency alerts that are easily readable help you in two ways. First, they get the information to the public more effectively (so they’re a good idea, even for standard emergency notification services). Second, they help with search engine optimization (SEO), which means that your Twitter account or Facebook page will be found more easily.
- Location information. When sending emergency notifications to the public via Twitter or Facebook, remember that everyone who is following your posts could get the message, regardless of where they live or work. If your message is only relevant to folks within a few square miles of an incident, include the location in your post. Otherwise, you risk confusion or worse.
We think that social media are very important for emergency managers, which is why Hyper-Reach integrates with both Twitter and Facebook and allows multiple feeds for each. But making effective use of these tools requires some changes in thinking from standard emergency alerts, such as “reverse 911”. Fortunately, it’s easy to use social media and other mass notification tools in conjunction with one another to get the maximum reach to the public.