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Social Media is a Life Saver

What if I told you that all that seemingly “wasted” time you spent on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or some other social media site would actually make you more effective, and your job easier?

Following the notification that something is wrong, what are your steps to get the word out? You probably have a plan in place that calls for you to contact the media, place a message on the homepage of your website, and you will probably send out an email to a list you updated far too long ago. What about everyone that isn’t on your list of email recipients, doesn’t monitor your website, or watch local news? A good deal of those you are responsible for notifying might never get the message.

If this sounds like you, it might be time to get serious about your communications plan and add social media to it. I am not referring to you just placing the info on a Facebook site and hoping people find it, but actually developing a strategy for getting people to see it and interact with it. The latest numbers reveal that almost 60% of Americans have a profile on a social networking site, so why aren't we using social media more to notify citizens during an emergency or crisis?

What does a robust social media strategy look like? A wide-reaching message requires it to be shared by those who initially receive it. Posting critical information to Facebook and Twitter provides not only an additional channel for reaching people, but it allows them to share the message with their followers, helping to extend the reach of the emergency message. Here are a few short suggestions to hone your strategy.

  • Keep messages short and actionable.

  • Set a link to the detailed content

  • Include hashtags to help spread the message

  • Send updates frequently. One of the greatest benefits of social media is that its instant.

  • Use your mobile device. It speeds up the sharing of the message. Don't wait to get to the office.

  • Continue to share updates even when an event ends. People will want to learn about the community’s next steps.

It turns out its probably OK to “waste” a little time scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. Social media is a robust tool for communicating to your community in a way that reaches more individuals with your emergency messaging. People need to hear, and the older methods we have relied on just aren’t getting it done.

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