BLOG 4: Facebook and Twitter During a Crisis Response
Facebook and Twitter are new forms of response for those involved in a crisis. The main factor behind these forms of social media is their instantaneous messaging. If a crisis occurs, users of Facebook and Twitter can immediately post a message, picture, or video for everyone else on the sites to see and share with others. Facebook and Twitter responses will not only alert those in the immediate impact of a crisis, but the families, stakeholders, and medical and emergency response officials as to where the crisis is, how bad the crisis is, and if people involved in the crisis are injured or killed.
Facebook and Twitter can also be outlets for people involved in crisis to let those on the outside world know if they have heard or seen anything about loved ones or missing items. After the tornado outbreak in Alabama in April, a Facebook page was set up for those who had lost items that were blown across Alabama and the South after the tornado. The page was a great resource for those immediately involved in the crisis to get their stories and images out to others, as well as those who had found lost items to post those items on Facebook and hoping they will get a response from the people looking for the items.
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20110524_11_0_JPIAea109370&allcom=1. After the Joplin Tornado in May, a Facebook page was created called “Joplin, Mo. Tornado Recovery” where families effected by the tornado could post messages looking for missing loved ones. The page was also used for victims to share stories and share connections to emergency organizations like the Red Cross and FEMA to help victims begin to rebuild and recover. The page even hosted an area for people to donate money and volunteer in the recovery efforts.
From a companies perspective, Facebook and Twitter can be mediators to a crisis incident. If a company is getting heat for some controversy or fault they had that caused a crisis, like BP or Toyota for example, they can go onto Facebook and Twitter, where they know they will get a big response, and post messages or videos trying to save their face. Companies can also bolster their companies image through Facebook and Twitter by asking their users to stick by them, or give out compensation notices to show they are actively engaged in the well-being of their consumers.
Twitter and Facebook are resources that federal emergency organizations use to get their own updates out in a timely manner. Organizations like the CDC, FBI offices, NOAA, FEMA, and the Red Cross all use Twitter and Facebook to keep their users up to date on the news in their department, safety procedures, and opportunities to volunteer. For example NOAA’s Twitter page is currently posting updates on Hurricane Rina’s progress and links to its current and future track. These organizations are being proactive instead of reactive in keeping their users safe and informed. By giving them instantaneous and constant messages and videos, the organizations are keeping their users actively involved in their forms of social media, therefore allowing people to be more aware if a crisis strikes them directly.
Finally, Facebook and Twitter are forms of media where organizations and users can interact on the same platform and in the same frame of mind. Organizations have to taylor their messages on Facebook and Twitter to appeal to those who follow them, so they will make their messages simple and concise so as not to confuse or frustrate users. At the same time, users can ask organizations questions and interact with them on the online platform as a way to directly stay involved with an organization. This direct response can come in handy during a crisis as an organization can answers users questions on their Twitter page during and after the crisis to get up to date information.