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|Reference Group||Emergency response, Business Continuity, Crisis Communications|
The Emergency Response Reference Group manages the development of content for this section and will be a point of contact for questions or help. Please jump in and make a start with adding content. If you aleady have guidelines on monitoring social media in emergency communications, please adapt them to develop generic policies and procedures guidelines for use by everyone. Also, (if you have permission), please link to them in "Examples'.
Table of Contents
Monitoring the emergency
Most emergency management organizations, municipalities and businesses already use social media as a channel to inform residents and clients. What's not uniform is the level of integration of social media platforms, normally used during routine times, into a comprehensive crisis communications plan when an incident occurs.
Why should social media be monitored during a crisis or emergency?
In our view, there are three major reasons. The first is to ensure that the emergency information you're issuing is resonating with your audiences and that it is helping to ensure that they are adopting the behaviour you want them to adopt: evacuate, shelter in place, prepare or any other message.
Second, you need to ensure that you have the ability to gauge the validity of the information shared on the web, by media and through social media. Rumour control through social media engagement has become a key piece of a Joint Information Centre operations for large-scale incidents. Monitoring that chatter and acting when necessary is essential in ensuring that YOUR message is being heard and that inaccuracies don't get out of hand.
The third reason is to ensure that the perception of your response will be favourable. We need to be aware of how our audiences perceive our actions and plan to deal with an emerging situation. Perception is often reality in our business.
Because public perception can have a big impact on operational issues, knowing what's being said and by whom, is clearly critical in identifying the key opinion “shapers” that comment on your organization. This will only work during a crisis if you have already established a routine social media monitoring program.
Setting up a media monitoring program may appear somewhat scary for many who may think it will take a lot of resources or personnel to implement it. The reality is that one person can ensure your organization has a good social media intelligence operation during routine times and expand that operation by adding a couple of other people during a crisis so you can monitor in real-time.
Social media monitoring is not just the purview of emergency management organizations and businesses. All serious traditional media outlets now have reporters and editors monitoring social media platforms for breaking news. Some good examples here.
Reputation management is a critical component of insuring that your business or organization can survive a crisis online or otherwise. In the age of social convergence, reputations can be mortally wounded in minutes. The only way to counter that is to first detect threats via a comprehensive social media monitoring program and then have the ability to react quickly via a sound crisis communications plan.
Monitoring social media messages to your organisation
- track blogs via Google Blogs and Google Alerts, aggregate on Google Reader
- track traditional media through Google News and aggregate on Google Reader again
- Identify hashtags (#) on Twitter that are relevant to the incident. Use tools such as hashtags.org, Twubs, Trendsmap, Kurrently, Social Mention and more.
- Determing where your followers are, what's trending near you and other location-based searches through tools such as: Trendsmap, TwitterMap and Tweography.
- Monitor trends, hashtags and tweets with tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Monitter, Netvibes, Tweetgrid and others
Monitoring what is being said about your organisation
Monitoring social media should be a routine duty for any organization. It allows you to identify key "influencers" among your audiences. These people have the ability to help shape public opinion about any response to a disaster. They should be among your principal audiences when you go into crisis mode and enhance your social media monitoring in your EOC or crisis centre.
Monitoring tools and tips
- How to set up a media monitoring program
- Moving from routine monitoring to crisis monitoring
- Useful monitoring tools
- Top Twitter tools
- Tracking hashtags
- Visualizing Tweets on a map
- Mapping tools
References and Links
- article on a municipality monitoring social networks during emergencies 
- The use of crowdsourcing for gathering information about natural disasters (2011) Risk Frontiers Newsletter Volume 11, Issue 2, December 2011 by Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University
- Article on why and how business can monitor their reputation online