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Chapter 3. Principles of Social Media Use in a Disaster
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Chapter 3. Principles of Social Media Use in a Disaster

3.1. Instead of top-down direction, solutions emerge

Using social media in a disaster requires a new management style. Senior management can't dictate the solution: it must emerge from the ground-up contributions of many people, each contributing the small pieces of relevant information they know.

The whole is also greater than the sum of its parts. Sharing information and insights will stimulate opinions and information offered by others. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

3.2. Organizational charts must be flexible in a disaster

Similarly, you can't get hung up on normal reporting relationships or authority in a disaster: managers may be victims themselves or otherwise unable to communicate. Plan for alternative pathways in your organizational charts, and empower staff to delegate and communicate when required.

3.3. Everyone can contribute

Some staffer who is normally not involved in station operations may have a critical piece of situational awareness simply because of where they happened to be when the disaster struck or because they may still be able to communicate when others aren't. They may also know some key resource and/or person who could be crucial. More important, dealing with fast-changing circumstances may well require a synthesis of observations and ideas by anyone available.

3.4. Strategy, tactics and tools must change on the fly

One of the reasons why real-time, location-based information is critical is that disasters can alter so radically and so quickly. A prudent course at one moment is folly a few minutes later. It is hard to simulate that kind of situation in desktop exercises, but social media, by providing real-time, location-based information, can at least reduce the uncertainty somewhat by providing the latest "situational awareness." Then they allow instant sharing so that strategy and tactics can be quickly altered.


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Chapter 2. Social Media and Station Operations in a Disaster  Table of Contents  Chapter 4. Devices and social media apps for disasters