Social Media in Times of Emergency: How we use it

Here at OSM we’ve posted many articles over time about the growing use of social media in times of emergency and crisis. Recent examples of this have been the Australian cyclone, the protests in Egypt and the New Zealand earthquake disaster.

Now our attention has been drawn to an infographic that depicts Social Media and Emergency Response, from Jolie O’Dell over on Mashable, sourced from CreditLoan. O’Dell points to an example of two girls stuck in a storm drain who rather than use emergency services for help, chose to appeal on Facebook. This seems to be against the grain but the infographic shows the growing use of social media in cases such as this.

Recent research showed that nearly half of people questioned said that they would use social media to communicate if involved in a disaster of some kind. The infographic has some interesting facts and statistics displayed upon it. For example, there are over 500 Emergency Management Group Pages on Facebook. When the question was asked ‘In an area-wide emergency, how likely would you be to use social media channels to let your friends and family know you are safe?’ 28% of respondents said that they definitely would while only 16% said they definitely would not.

The infographic also looks into some of the benefits of using social media for emergency notifications such as the multiple ‘credible’ spokespeople and ongoing contact. It also looks at some of the threats and challenges of using social media in this way, such as incomplete information from limited message lengths and also the potential of network overload. There is a huge amount more information displayed on the infographic so for more details check it out at the Mashable link above.

You may also be interested in how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is using Twitter in emergencies, by Brian Kalish over on NextGov. If you were involved in a crisis of some kind would you use a social media platform for help and if so which channel would you use? Let us have your comments on this please.