30 Reasons to Use Social Media in an Emergency #smem

1. It’s real time

2. It’s self correcting

3. It instantly connects you to millions of people around the globe.

4. It never sleeps.

5. It connects you to hundreds, if not thousands, of relief agencies.

6. It connects you to thousands of emergency response professionals.

7. It's almost always at the scene of an emergency when it happens – or it’s there moments afterwards.

8. It let's emergency responders monitor actual conversations at the scene of the emergency in real time

9. It provides numerous, real-time reports on the effects of the emergency.

10. It provides real-time photos of the effects of an emergency.

11. It provides real-time videos of the effects of an emergency.

12. It provides numerous, real-time reports on the success or failure of relief efforts.

13. It provides real-time photos of the success or failure of relief efforts.

14. It provides real-time videos of the success or failure of relief efforts.

15. It takes away much of the guesswork of emergency response.

16. On Twitter, hashtags let emergency responders, those in need of relief, relief workers and volunteers focus their listening and conversations to streamline the process of providing assistance when and where it is needed most.

17. It can provide real-time injury/casualty reports.

18. It can give real-time information on missing, separated or found emergency victims.

19. GPS capabilities can let rescuers know exactly where victims are.

20. GPS capabilities, as well as information from conversations shared, can help with crisis mapping.

21. Listening to social conversation can provide critical information on developing crises and permit the introduction of information within the same networks that may defuse a crisis.

22. Armies of volunteers stand at the ready to assist in the sifting of information.

23. You don't have to worry about matching or changing radio frequencies. (Not to worry, Twitter users know to turn to Facebook when the “fail whale” appears!)

24. The public already turns to social networks when an emergency occurs; they’re already there listening and communicating when emergency response professionals are ready to communicate.

25. It’s a powerful way of communicating emergency preparedness information to a vast audience of listeners from an incredibly diverse demographic spectrum.

26. Numerous, well-established accounts with scores of followers can be tapped to help curate critical information and pass it on to millions (Naysayers, please revisit point 2.)

27. The vastness of social network usage lets information be targeted as well.

28. You can tap into nearly any resource in a single tweet.

29.  Twitter Lists can be used to identify particular sources or resources.

30. It's easy to use….

I’d love to see this list expanded so that I could provide an updated post and a more complete list. Please share in the comments additional reasons you many think of to use social media in an emergency.

(Also, if I write a updated post, I‘ll be sure to share who suggested any additional reasons!)


And please join me on Twitter:  

@CrisisSocMedia  and  @GlenGilmore

Glen Gilmore served as Mayor and Public Safety Director of New Jersey's eighth-largest city when it became of the focal point of America's Anthrax Crisis.  Gilmore was dubbed a "national hero" for his crisis leadership by The New York Times.  He also served on the Board of Directors of a University Hospital and as an instructor in Crisis Leadership with the National Emergency Response and Rescue Center with Texas A&M University.

Related Readings

"Twitter 911" - A Proposal

How NOT to Use Hashtags & RTs in a Crisis

 Social Media & Emergency Response Lessons from a Pioneer
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