Are you brand new to Social Media and its role in Emergency Management?  We are glad you are here and want to list a number of great resources to assist you.  Here are some very basic steps to incorporate social media into your agency.

Step #1:  Learn about Social Media

Run, don’t walk, to find Common Craft videos.  On their website, www.commoncraft.com, you will find the ability to become a member of their website so that videos can be used for broadcast or training purposes.  A few of their short videos are available on YouTube for personal learning about social media tools.  Do not use these tools for any purpose other than personal learning.

Consider this order to watching the videos:

  1. Social Networking in Plain English
  2. Twitter in Plain English
  3. Wiki’s in Plain English
  4. RSS in Plain English
  5. Blogs in Plain English
  6. Twitter Search in Plain English
  7. And anything else you have time for from Lee Lefever’s YouTube Channel

Step #2:  Choose a Social Media Strategy

  • Monitoring Social Media: This means using various methods to “watch” social media without establishing agency accounts.  Several of the easiest ways to monitor social media include:
  • One-Way Engagement: This means using social media to post web-versions of your agency-based information.  If you choose to do this, be sure that people know how to reach your agency should they have questions or want to interact with the information you share.
  • Two-Way Engagement: This means both sharing information about your work AND being responsive to those who are engaging with you.

Step #3:  Develop a Social Media Policy.

Here are some tips to writing your social media policy.  Also included below are centralized repositories of policy examples from a variety of organizations.

Step #4:  Educate your employees on use of social media

Support your employees by giving them the time and space to examine the tools, understand the business application and learn through quality webinars, online training curriculum and networking with other people who are using these tools in your local communities.  A great resource, available in many locations, can be a local chapter of the Social Media Club.  Look for groups in your area that are talking about social media tools.  Many locations have “bar camps” or unconferences which help people in learning the tools.

A word of caution to you about training:  Just like 9/11/01 spawned a group of “homeland security experts,” there are many trainers who perceive themselves to be experts who do not understand the differences between individual and agency uses of social media or remain ignorant about the differences that public agencies face.  Find someone you know who is active in social media and test out the reputation of people before you hire them to work with you on social media.

Step #5:  Ensure employees have both desktop and mobile phone capabilities

While social media access via desktop will allow you to broadcast information from your agency, ability to be responsive requires mobility.  Smartphones will give your office a key advantage in being able to share information in a timely manner.

Step #6:  Establish a consistent battle rhythm for how often you’ll create & distribute new content

Not quite sure what “battle rhythm” means when it comes to social media?  Read this article for a little description and guidance.

Step #7:  Encourage, monitor and evaluate your outcomes & goals

How you measure social media can be just as important as why you want to engage in the first place.  Too often, people perceive that being active in social media may not be worth the time investment.  Here are a few blog posts that I’ve written entitled:  Measuring What Counts and Sinking Your Battleship which may be helpful.

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