social media

Getting Social Media Right During a Disaster

When Hurricane Sandy rocked the New Jersey and New York coastline in 2012 the public turned to social media to check on loved ones and receive up to date storm information. For many, social media was a useful tool. In a terrifying twist, however, bad information went viral. The social media rumor mill was not unique to Hurricane Sandy. Anytime there is a public safety emergency, bad information is bound to come out with the good. What can public safety organizations do to mitigate the rumor mill in a disaster communications situation? How can public safety make sure that good information will rise to the top of a social media newsfeed during a crisis? Here are three tips to help your organization get the best information out during an emergency.

  1. Engage your Stakeholders early

If you cultivate meaningful relationships with your stakeholders, nurture stakeholder trust, and prioritize stakeholder engagement in advance of an emergency you will be a go-to source of information when a crisis hits. If you are a go-to source, your stakeholders won’t look at other sources that might have unreliable information. At the very least they will cross-check any suspicious information with your reliable information.

  1. Encourage stakeholders to be your social media champions in advance of a crisis

For every 100 followers that your social media accounts have, maybe one of them will actively engage with you. These “engagers” will be your social media “boots-on-the-ground” during a public safety event; they will push information on your behalf and re-post or retweet your news alerts so that your message gets out there. Check out this post to learn how to boost stakeholder engagement in advance of a crisis.

  1. Become a leader in social media for disaster communications

Stakeholder engagement is a good start, but the future of social media for disaster communications lies in robust and scalable disaster communication social media strategies. The Red Cross is a leader in using social media for disaster communications. Check out their Social Media Digital Operations Center.

As the public increasingly turns to social media for crisis information it will become increasingly important for public safety organizations to manage the social media rumor mill and make sure that good information gets out instead of the bad. Check out these great examples of government organizations that leverage social media in all the right ways. For more advice and information on how to craft a compelling social media strategy, download our social media toolkit!

How does your organization stay ahead of social media communication during crises?

Image is from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center



The Art of Retweeting

Now that you’ve set up your Twitter account and learned some best practices, it’s time to dive a little deeper. Twitter is one of the best platforms to use if you want to communicate with your audience in real-time and participate in the conversation on trending topics. One way to do that is with the communication tactic Twitter calls, the “Retweet.” A Retweet (RT) is simply when you re-post a tweet that another account originally posted. It’s a great way to share relevant information with your followers and shows them which accounts you think are sharing valuable information. It also shows the original poster that you appreciate their content and it can aid in growing your own Twitter network.

Retweeting takes places one of two ways: you can choose to hit the “Retweet” button, which will immediately share that tweet to all of your followers, or hit “Quote Tweet” which will allow you add your own text before Retweeting. Be careful though—you only have 140 characters, including the text from the original tweet! And make sure whatever text you are adding helps foster a positive, relevant conversation.

Here’s how to optimize Retweeting for your agency:

1. Know who to RT Knowing who your influencers are is critical in social strategy, and it starts with knowing your audience. Which individuals or agencies does your audience look to for valuable information? These individuals or agencies should rank high across three attributes to be considered a true influencer: Reach, Relevance and Resonance.

Reach is audience size—you want to target people that have a large, wide scope of followers.

Relevance is the obvious one. Make sure the person/organization is relevant to a topic your audience cares about.

Resonance is a measure of how much interaction occurs with someone’s content. Think of RTs, mentions, and favorites.

Determine who the power players are and RT the information that is significant to you and your audience.

2. RT often, but not too much Don’t RT just for the sake of Retweeting. No matter if it’s a tweet you composed or one from one of your influencers, make sure your audience finds it valuable. Also, make sure that all your content isn’t purely RTs from other accounts. Find a balance between how much you’re Retweeting and how much you tweet yourself. Keep in mind who you’re Retweeting and how often.

3. Foster a dialogue Did someone RT you? That’s awesome! That means they liked your content so much that they decided to share it with their own followers, which in turn can lead to new followers for you. So how do you use this to your advantage? Start a dialogue. Tweet their handle and say thanks for sharing or ask “what part of x, y, or z resonated with you?” Using these engagements to foster a dialogue shows that you appreciate their engagement with your content and want to foster a social relationship.

Remember when starting this dialogue to put a period or other text before their handle so that the conversation is included in the newsfeed of all your followers and not just the feed of those who follow both you and this handle.

What other tips and tricks do you have for Retweeting? Share them with us!

For more information on using Twitter and other social media channels, download our free toolkit!

Social Media Toolkit