Best Practices for Using Social Media to Engage the ‘Community’ on Preparedness


Community Engagement Guidance and Best Practices

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report outlining ways in which social media can be used to engage the community on preparedness. The report was created by the by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and its Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG). The report is “intended for use by all public safety disciplines and all agencies and organizations seeking to better understand and use social media and other web-based tools without having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ or spend hours searching for examples, policy templates or other use cases.”

From the introduction: “Social media and collaborative technologies have become critical components of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. From the international response efforts after major tsunamis to hurricane recovery in major U.S. cities, officials now turn to social media technologies to share information and connect with citizens during all phases of a crisis. Implementing these new technologies, however, requires that responding agencies adopt new communication strategies and engagement methods.”

The purpose of the document is to:

  • Define and discuss various goals for community engagement to enhance the efforts and secure the success of public safety agencies and partner organizations’ labors;
  • Discuss various reasons for community engagement and how they can inform and improve tool choice, activities, messaging, materials, and more;
  • Outline challenges and considerations associated with community engagement; and
  • Provide recommendations and use cases to help agencies promote engagement and collaboration among community members and groups to improve public safety, preparedness, and resilience.

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