Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The power of the hashtag ...

How the #smem has become a virtual clearinghouse for sharing info on the impact of social media on the world of emergency management. 

About a year ago, a group of luminaries decided to gather their thoughts and share their experiences on how to advance the use of emerging technologies around the #smem hashtag on Twitter. The Social Media in Emergency Management acronym quickly became well known. In fact, some key people behind it managed to get a full day at NEMA's mid-year conference in March to promote social media.
And, yes, I'm the big guy talking ...

The #smemchat held every Fridays have continued to provide a platform for the sharing of experiences and information on the growing use of social media in all aspects of emergency management.

A recent case in point, highlights the benefits of using twitter hashtags to channel content on the web ... from blogs and other sources.

It first started with this post from Cheryl Bledsoe on emerging "good practices" in the SMEM field.
That post gathered lots of attention in the following days:

RT @DisasterForums: Are there best practices for social media use for Emergency Management - http://t.co/pFZN427itwitter.com/FloodRiskGender/statuses/1396094157362380816 days ago - by  @FloodRiskGender on twitter

I followed up with my own blog post on what I described as "commonly accepted practices" and that got some attention (nearly 200 views ... which is big for my modest blog !). And it got picked up by my friend John Moore at Gov in the Lab
RT @likeaword: minimum practice for SM in emergencies http://t.co/fT6C6XGt | References @dcctayside @patricecloutier thx gr8 stuff #smem 

Now, what's interesting is what happens next. Ben Proctor from the UK added fantastic content on his own, very tactically oriented for first responders and targeting social media preparedness as a response tool. A great read.

Motivated by that response, I then wrote a further blog post on public alerting, warnings and tone ... and how social media factors into the equation. This proved to be one of my most "popular" post with lots of tweets, RTs and mentions ... in addition to being picked up again on Gov in the Lab. The point is ... when you stimulate conversations and provide thoughtful content ... people will pay attention. The results nearly another 150 pageviews ... 

But more importantly for me, my post spurred others into action ... including a post from someone who's made a meteoric ascent among the constellation of SMEM stars. Christopher Poirier's blog post on what PIOs face nowadays was bang on: the need for immediacy ... the positioning as a trusted source and the absolute necessity to engage in a dialogue using social networks. Brilliant, so much so that his piece ...was taken up by Gov in the Lab (again !) and in GovLoop.

Now, even if the trail ended there ... it would be phenomenal ... but as a further illustration of the diffuse cloud-based collaboration that is #smem ... another star James Garrow weighed in too on the concept of "digital first responders" ... 

Jim's post (@jgarrow on twitter) was insightful and did garner a lot of attention too (stats provided by Jim)
Quick stats: 108 blog visits, 13 tweets by me, 17 RTs, 6 replies, 27879 impressions (obv lots of overlap, 7486 imp from 1 tweet). In 15 hrs.

So, to me, the last few days have proven without a doubt, the tremendous power of Twitter and blogs as learning tools and professional sharing channels. If you add to that the role of "clearinghouse" provided by sites such as Gov in the Lab, Gov Loop and the new Emergency2.0 Wiki, the possibilities abound .... and I'm not even considering all the diverse groups in LinkedIn that are specifically tailored to emergency managers.

Welcome to a brave new world where you can make an impact, exchange views and learn from peers from all over the world ... without even leaving your office or home.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Patrice

    It is amazing how quickly this rapid sharing of knowledge and expertise around the world becomes normal.

    In the UK I'd say comms staff and emergency management professionals are being a little slow to see the opportunities.

    I always point UK practitioners to #smem I also point them to #smemchat though this takes place early Friday evening UK time so we have to be pretty committed to join in.

    Keep up the good work.