Creative Commons via Clint Hamada on FlicKr

This is going to be a busy week on social media.

With the impending Hurricane Sandy (#sandy, #frankenstorm) and the International Association of Emergency Management (#iaem12) Annual Conference, a number of different platforms are buzzing with pictures and information.

And, in the midst of these 2 events, there is still an important election coming up here in the United States.

With all of these big events, it isn’t going to take long for the casual user of Twitter to feel lost in the data. But before you turn it all off due to feeling overwhelmed, let me ask you a quick question:

Are you filtering your Twitter stream so that you receive what is most important to you?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider the following tips & tricks.

If you use native Twitter ( to observe Twitter, consider segregating who you follow into Twitter lists.  When you look at someone’s Twitter profile, click on the little head icon and click “add or remove to lists.”  For example, I segment who I watch into the following types of lists:

  • Local news media (because most days, my “emergency events” are only covered by local media)
  • National news media (in case I want to watch a larger event that is occurring elsewhere)
  • All news media (combine both local and national into one list for when my local area is dealing with a national incident)
  • Local Public Safety Agencies (so I can see first hand what is “released information” from my on-the-street public information officers)
  • Local Community (who lives in my local service area….because these community needs and resources are something I need to be aware of)
  • Other Supporters (I can’t control who follows my local emergency response agency, but I can locate where and how I check in with those outside of my service areas)

If you use Tweetdeck, you can also easily use the “global filter” by going to SETTINGS—>GLOBAL FILTER and choosing to eliminate key words or hashtags in the “containing words” line.  For example, eliminating RT will take out any retweeted information in your Tweetdeck columns.  For a situation that is involving a number of retweets, this can be very useful.

Another cool feature, in Tweetdeck, at the bottom of every column, is a button that says “filter this column” which allows you to highlight things you want to watch or exclude terms you don’t want to see.

While using hashtags can be helpful for searches, incidents that affect a large geographic area can give you a lot of noisy traffic that may not be pertinent to your searching.  By seeing a “geocoded fence” within your Twitter stream, you can narrow the noise down to what is more pertinent in your local searches by constructing a virtual fenced radius of your location.  To do this, head on over to my friend, Gahlord Dewald’s blog post on setting this up.

In addition to setting up good filters, remember good emergency management etiquette on sharing crisis related information.

And, if you live in the mandatory evacuation zones or know of folks who should be evacuating, reach out and encourage them to do so. Research still tells us that people will comply with emergency warnings when they receive the news from friends, family members and their faith communities as opposed to government which still suffers from perception and trust problems.

Remember, it is safer to have heeded a warning than risk becoming part of the problem later.



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