Tag Archive | Facebook

Emergency Management: Using Social Media to Save Lives?

According to a recent American Red Cross survey,  more than one-third of citizen respondents surveyed  said they expected help to arrive in less than one hour if they posted a request to an emergency response agency on Facebook or Twitter.  The problem here is that these assumptions could put a person in a ‘life or death’ situation if the First Responder group is not monitoring these platforms.

So the question is…

Has Emergency Management incorporated Social Media into their communication strategy?

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is listening and responding to this new public pattern of communication.  Federal Coordinating Officer Don Keldsen is quoted in a recent press release:  “Events worldwide have demonstrated how quickly social media can connect people and allow them to share information and help one another.  We have been able to reach the survivors of disasters through our continued posting to social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook.”

“The louder the voices from the ground, the better the response will be.  Access to accurate and timely information from the ground during post-crisis response  periods will enable humanitarian responders to act more efficiently,” said one volunteer involved in the evaluation of the Usahidi Haiti Project

Social Media offers real-time exchange of information on a Global scale!  An obvious advantage,  BUT all of that information is a double-edged sword.  One of the challenges emergency management has is the extra resources needed to manage this large amount of information:  to find the right conversation, analyze it and respond to it in a timely fashion.

There are other obstacles to overcome:  Professionals not familiar with social media face technical challenges, and policies/operational procedures/laws must now be adjusted to accommodate this new shift in communication. These are all factors that keep the pace of advancement towards the ultimate goal of eliminating communication silos between EM and the public, and between agencies within the EM umbrella (Fire, Police, Mayors office, etc).

But this is a work in progress.

Emergency management is taking the use of social media as a communication tool very seriously, and moving forward with great strides despite their challenges.  Online focus groups such as www.sm4em.org  have been created to support Social Media usage within the EM profession, creating chat opportunities such as #SMEM on Twitter.  Industry Conferences have recently offered sessions on best-practices  (i.e. WCDM, ASIS conference).  Most local municipalities have  started to engage with their communities on social media to best prepare them for emergencies in their areas – EMBC  offered a list of emergency #Hashtags to monitor during an event (May 2012).

What is our responsibility, as the public, to support our Emergency Management teams?

I believe that we should..

  • Be a part of the learning process.  It is just as much our responsibility to know HOW to communicate with our local first responders groups during an emergency.
  • Be forthcoming with any information that we have during an event that can help our emergency management teams respond effectively during or after an event. (I.e. video, pics, information, etc.).
  • Be smart about what is said online during a crisis to eliminate unnecessary information for EM to have to filter through

How is your local community emergency management team using Social Media?

Related Articles:

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Social Media: Part 3 – The Budget

Budgeting for your Social Media Program


First thing we must understand is that there is a difference between a Social Media Program and a Social Media Campaign.  Programs (Plans)  are developed within your overall strategy and will often have smaller programs / campaigns within that plan. Tactics are used to achieve the objectives for these programs and campaigns.   Even if you only decide on a limited program for social media, (i.e. Facebook profile with a contest once a month)  please go through the planning exercise to make sure that it supports your overall business objectives.  Offering SMART objectives (S- Strategic, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Realistic and T-Time-bound) will help build your case to get the budget that you seek for your program.  If you are the owner of your business, part of a charitable organization or an employee at your company, you will need to justify this budget to measure your return on investment and for forward planning.  (Refer to my Social Media Research and Plan blogs for steps 1 & 2 ).

  1. Research – Do you need to do anymore research?  Are you going to have to include any of this in your budget (i.e. Focus groups).  Some organizations will do a research budget first and then based on the results move to the next step to acquire more budget for the program.  For small businesses, much of your research can be gathered at the most a nominal charge:  Free information available on the internet, informal conversations with key customers, and marketing data that you have collected over the years.
  2. Social Media maturity – If you already have certain social media platforms set up (i.e. Facebook page, Linked in company, Twitter account) this will save some time.  If you have staff that can assist and you, and you yourself  have some familiarity with using social media, this will give you some support and background to getting started.  Much of the start-up budget is just getting your online profiles set up.  Much of Social Media budget is allocated to TIME.  If you have someone on staff that can create, manage and monitor your profiles, consider this as an option; BUT,  think this through because it is your reputation and money that is being used.  Source out a social media expert to get some quotes, you might be surprised.
  3. Hire a Social Media Consultant, or not? Your biggest portion of budget will be to your ‘Community Manager’.  Salaries for this position varies depending on the time commitment, expertise and what part of the world you live in.  I have seen salaries ranging from $35-$50K on LinkedIn.  If you decide to bring in a consultant to help you develop your strategy, this will be an added cost as well. Make sure you do your research on what to expect out of someone who will assist in developing your strategy.  Not only will you want them to have experience in Social Media and Public Relations, but you will want them to have a good grasp of overall business strategies.  Check out the Related Resources section below for tips on hiring, or ask me any questions in the comment section.
  4. What do you want to achieve?  The more you want, the more it will cost.
    • Profiles – how many?  How many updates needed on each profile?  How often?
    • Where will you get your content?  Time – who will do this?
    • Monitoring – Will you have someone monitor social media for trends, competitors, etc.
    • Will you be having campaigns throughout the time period?  What will this look like?
  5. Tools – There are many free tools that are very effective.  As your programs grow, you may want to purchase a subscription to a social media tool to assist in the area of management, monitoring and analysis.  Hootsuite, Hubspot, Constant Contact and Radian6 are examples of some social media tools on the market.  Some of these tools offer a Free trial, or a Free limited version of their product and this is fine for starting out, but as your team and program grows, you really should consider a software tool to support your efforts.  Automation will not only save you time, but will help with efficiency.

Budget Checklist

  • Who – Human Resources to start, implement, manage and evaluate the program and/or campaign
  • What – Objectives – What does success look like ?
  • When – Timeline – milestones and final evaluation
  • Where – Social Media sites to be used
  • How – Tactics:  How are you going to achieve this?  Monitoring and Measurement:  Tools to be used?

These questions will frame your budget.  Human resources will be your largest contribution to your budget.  Be realistic, but also understand that you set up opportunity for evaluation so that you can review your budget for long-term planning.  Consider too that you may be paying  less now for traditional media (i.e. print) to free up some budget dollars for human resources and other social media resources needed for this initiative.

Related Resources (articles, books, blogs):

Mashable:  How to Optimize your Social Media Budget

Brian Solis – The State of Social Marketing 2011-2012 – Brian talks about the situation of Social Marketing today.  181 Brand managers, agency professionals, and experts were surveyed and Brian offers highlights, graphs and other social media statistics on his blog.  Not surprising, but one of the greatest challenges in keeping social from being main stream in organizations is budget challenges.  BUT keep reading because statistics are showing that organizations are planning to increase social spending over the next few years.

Alia Haley (guest blogger) SocialWayne.com- Budgeting for Social Media:  Who pays for it and why

SMART Objectives – http://topachievement.com/smart.html

Neil Schaffer : Hiring a social Media Consultant

Ann Gregory:  Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns (book on KOBO)

Spin Sucks:

Sam’s Teach Yourself Facebook in 10 minutes: E-Book review

Recently I purchased a KOBO e-book.  Yes, I balked at this for a long time as I am one that still likes the touch and feel of a good book in my hands.  Having a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor library has been a life long dream, but the reality of it is, e-books just make sense in today’s fast paced, transient and information overloaded business world.  It gives you the ability to carry a very large library with you at all times (very appealing) and for someone who is a compulsive highlighter and note taker, the ability to do it right on the e-book is a bonus.   Not to say that I won’t be giving up all my paper books right away, but I find I am gravitating to the e-book more and more.  What finally convinced me to purchase it?  It was the fact that books were available for me to download immediately from my KOBO account and I save money on shipping.

I have only had the opportunity to read a couple of books, and Sam’s Teach Yourself Facebook in 10 minutes was my first.  The book offers a background to what Facebook is all about, why you should have a Facebook page for your business, and simple step-by-step instructions on how to set up a business page.  The book offers advertising tips, best-practices, how to plan a campaign and links to other related articles.  Of course measurement is key and they touch on how to do this as well.  If you purchase the e-version, it allows for online registration to get updates of the book when they are available.

Overall a very simple and quick read, especially if you are just starting out and need the basics.  If you already have a Facebook page and want more in-depth advice on how to make your page and campaigns more effective, this might be a little light for you.  But don’t pass this off, even if you are experienced, the price is right for this inexpensive reference tool.

So for someone just starting out,  I would give this two-thumbs up.

Price:  Amazon offers it for $14.99,  my KOBO purchase was $8.79

Do you have any other books that were helpful for you as you built your Facebook business page?  Would love to hear from you.