Taking the message to where people are – on social media

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Traditional media such as radio and cable television, is on the decline, particularly among younger residents. More and more people are consuming content on social media. And that’s both a challenge and an opportunity for emergency managers trying to get their message out. 

We live in a world where 53% of Americans get their news from social media.  And that number is growing.

In 2022, there were an estimated 270 million active social media users in the United States. That’s about 81% of the total US population, a number that grew 12.5% compared to the previous year.

Facebook is the most popular social network in the US, with 228 million active users. There are 186 million active Instagram users, and TikTok is popular and growing among adults under 30.

The average Facebook user spends approximately 20 hours on the app per month and overall social media usage is estimated at more than 60 hours per month. 

With the development of modern society social media has evolved into a viable communication tool in all aspects of life including emergency notifications. And that’s why many Emergency Managers already use social media when sending important messages to their community. 

We agree that social media is a great tool to share your information if it’s used as an integral piece of an overall communication strategy. Here’s why:

  1. Milling. People automatically turn to social media and the Internet to gather more information to both learn new things and to confirm information they’ve received.  Emergency managers use the term “milling” to describe when people try to confirm an alert or other emergency communication. And social media is an important way for people to find confirming information. 
  1. Snowballs.  Social media gets repeated among its recipients, a phenomenon called the social media snowball effect.  Even if a post initially reaches only 10% of its intended audience, it has the potential to reach many times that number. People tend to share information they consider valuable with their friends and family and each of those recipients can share that information in turn.  And social media lets them do it instantly with only one click across different social tools
  1. Growth. There are more social media channels than there were 10 years ago and we’d bet good money there will be more in another 10 years. Two examples are TikTok and  Nextdoor. We are especially excited about Nextdoor because it’s built around neighborhoods, which makes it perfect for geo-targeted alert messages. And Nextdoor has a service for public agencies that lets you send messages to everyone in your jurisdiction without needing them to follow you. As one head of emergency services put it: “DO NOT ignore this platform.  It is growing and agencies who work with NextDoor have direct access to subscribers”  In fact, we’re so excited about Nextdoor, we built an integration, which you can read about here.

Some emergency notification providers think that social media should not be considered as an emergency notification tool because of some of its limitations. For example, one emergency notification provider argues that social media should not be used for sending out emergency alerts and community notifications because it does not reach people reliably. For example, a Facebook post will only reach people if they are connected to Facebook and had liked your page previously. Your posts might or might not appear in their news feed and you might reach only about 10% of your population. 

What this argument misses is that social media is one tool in a tool kit.  And you don’t use a hammer when you need to drill a hole. 

Social media can be a great tool for sharing information. But, you should not rely on it as your only means of sending out emergency alerts. Consider it as a part of your communication plan and use it in a bundle with other proven emergency communication channels such as:  text messages, calls, IPAWS WEA alerts etc. That way you will fill in possible gaps and cover as many people as possible. 

Hyper-Reach emergency notification system integrates with the most popular social media channels for sharing emergency & community alerts such as Facebook, Twitter and – now – Nextdoor.  We also give you access to every other tool, so you have the most powerful of toolkits. To discover more, book our demo.

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