I loved this post. I wrote it on my phone. Twenty-five plus links, all pointing to mass media stories about how critical social media was in helping the public survive Post-Tropical Superstorm (nee Hurricane) Sandy. And if you’ve ever written a blog post on a phone, you’ll know how hard it is to link to things. (Suffice it to say I was proud of myself.) But this post is my official announcement to government agencies and responders that social media is HERE. Ignoring it after seeing what came out of lower Manhattan after a devastating storm flew through is tantamount to malfeasance. How dare you say you’ve got the public’s best interests in mind after the tsunami of proof that social media is how people communicate in an emergency–and then ignore it. After Sandy, and this point, there simply is no excuse anymore.
So, yeah, Post-Tropical Superstorm (nee Hurricane) Sandy. That happened. Mostly sucked. Got lots of lessons learned to share. But let’s start with the helicopter/10,000 foot overview.
For those of you who’ve taken communication theory classes (and those of you who have breathlessly read and memorized all of my posts), you’ll be familiar with the idea of diffusion of innovation.
See that point right above the words Take Off? Where the slope of the curve changes (and the artist who made this chart had to change Microsoft Paint curve-y line tools)? In our Diffussion of Innovation theory, that’s called the “inflection point.” It’s the point where growth in adoption starts to slow down, usually because most of the people who would adopt that innovation have already done so. The curve levels off when there is no more adoption (like your grandfather and electronica music, it just ain’t happening).
That inflection point? We’re there in terms of social media adoption by emergency response folks. That’s what Sandy taught me. Everyone that’s ahead of the curve, even just barely, has already accepted that social media is a great and growing part of emergency response and they’ve begun integrating it into their work. The rest of the people who could conceivably start using social media (the emergency managers who just wanted to see some return on investment first, or were just waiting for the go-ahead from the executive) will do so now. Those who refuse out-of-hand will be seen as ineffective and out of touch. And since they all report to some executive (read: person who has to stump for votes and answer to the public), I don’t think they’ll be around much longer.
Why, (I imagine) you say(ing)?
(Yes, that’s 25 different links, most of them from national media sources, specifically about the social media aspect of the storm–all positive to some extent.)
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a trend.
I think, beyond the obvious implications of actually using social media in emergencies, this event has real consequences for us. You know, the folks that have made a certain number of bones being the social media evangelist in their fields (like me!). No longer can we trot out the same old anecdotes about how one day everyone will be using social media in crises.
We now need to concentrate on teaching how to do it right. How to work with the public, as opposed to just broadcasting to them. How to make #SMEM into an everyday conversation, a key, normal, regular part of what we do before an emergency.