Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Integrating social media in your EM and/or BCP program

Most readers of this blog know that I also collaborate on the PTSC-Online community which is a web-based tool to exchange with Canadian emergency management, BCP professionals and others. In the past, I've worked with my colleague Barry Radford to develop a crisis communications/emergency information plan template with a focus on social media.

I also recently completed a series of post on the integration of social media into emergency management (SMEM) ... a detailed outline of the "social convergence" continuum as it applies to disaster response and EM programs in general. Here's a brief look at the continuum:

  • NO SM: we still hear some EM types go: ..." I don't have time or the resources, or the money, to get into social media ..." or "... I don't know enough about it" ... or even ..."it's a fad and will go a way, we need official tools to communicate ..." 
  • Limited use of SM: ... the first step is ... acceptance ... social media platforms are now key parts of our communities' fabric. We have to move at the speed of our audience and that means, in some cases, using social media as an old-fashioned one-way communications tool, Think of Twitter (for example), as a key component of your alerting/notification process. 
  • Interactive use of SM: the realm of using more than one SM platform, integrating it into a good web-based information strategy. We know who some of the key "influencers" are, those who help shape public perception of our response.
  • Conversational use of SM: , the Listen, Learn, Engage formula. Now that we know who our key stakeholders who may be helpful to us are, we actually go out and engage with them on social media platforms. We know who to interact with to counter false information and dispel rumours. 
  • Operational use of SM: this is not only for the PIO or the JIC anymore, although SM play a key role in the provision of prompt, effective and accurate emergency information. Now, we're taking advantage of the "age of social convergence" where mobile devices/tech + SM = empowered citizens and volunteers ... This means we become aware of, and use to some degree, data provided by digital volunteers and crisis mappers. 
  • Integrated use of SM: We integrate those data streams and analyses in the EOC. More than that, it's use is expanded in all aspects of EM, from preparedness and mitigation to recovery.  SM is now a fully integrated part of our electronic emergency management systems and a proven volunteer coordination tool.
In addition to posts on each of the six steps, I've also posted on topics like setting objectives and getting started, setting up a social listening operation and, most recently, measuring your progress on the social convergence continuum. Here are the links to all 10 posts in the series: 

Series introduction (October 12, 2011)
Part 1: starting from scratch (October 23, 2011)

Although I started writing the series in October 2011, a lot of the topics are still relevant and most of the links in the individual posts are still live. I hope you will find them useful and that you will also look at the other great content on PTSC-Online.

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