As readers will know, I have been a huge fan of social media when it is used as part of a plan in part of the toolbox (I most recently talked about it here). As a stand-alone tool, it has shown value and failure.
A 2009 study from Germany, titled A Measurement-driven Analysis of Information Propagation in the Flickr Social Network, traces messages as they “propagate” around the Internet. This study provided at least one disturbing finding:
We also ﬁnd that information spreads slowly in the network; even the most popular photos exhibit a slow, steady growth in popularity over a long period of time (1-2 years).
This is not comforting, if one is relying on social media for timely, accurate accounting of what is happening where. Preppers say “When seconds count, response is minutes away“. This is an example of when a delay in the warning process may cause a problem during extreme events.
For example, during a recent tornado warning, one National Weather Service office tweeted:
The result was a number of retweets, some as late at two hours after the fact.
As I discussed in an earlier post, Social Media is a good tool to have in the toolbox… But emergency managers must also have other tools (at least three) to get information from trusted sources.
Lloyd Colston is an emergency manager serving Citizens in southwest Oklahoma. He has a passion for preparedness and regularly offers up the message on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a host of other social media channels. He is a trainer in the Incident Command System, Advanced Crisis Communications Strategies, the National Incident Management System, and Terrorism Awareness.