Why you Should NOT Rely on Social Media for Emergency Alerts & Community Notifications - Voyent Alert!

Why you Should NOT Rely on Social Media for Emergency Alerts & Community Notifications

Social Media has provided us with the ability to communicate with others easily and to drive awareness, but should you be solely relying on it to communicate with your citizens during an emergency,  in times of crisis or for public service announcements and notices?

The answer is simply, NO.

Here are 5 reasons why you should not solely rely on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for emergency and day to day communications with your citizens.

REACHING THE RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE RIGHT TIME

Social media is a powerful communication tool, but it is driven by algorithms that increase or decrease the awareness of your post based on how people engage with it. You cannot rely on social media to effectively reach a large percentage of your citizens all the time. Especially, if they are not registered for the social platforms or online at the time of posting.

HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE

You have a community of 60K citizens with 15K of these citizens liking your Facebook page.

On average, about 10% or less/more of those 15K citizens will be reached with your post on Facebook.

Thus, your emergency alert telling people to evacuate a specific location has only reached 1500 people, which is 2.5% of your population. 

It simply is not a reliable way to reach your residents.

Leveraging techniques such as anonymous registration, enriched and targeted messaging, and rapid enrolment allows mass communication services to reach a much larger portion (8-10X more) of your community immediately.

Ability to Alert

Social media is noisy.  It is filled with posts, videos, and advertisements. To receive information, you need to login and actively begin to consume and engage with the information. It lacks the ability to notify you of a new post unless you turn on notifications from a specific channel.

During the time that you are consuming information a post about an emergency or public works notice could possibly show up, but it is not guaranteed. Whereas a mass notification service will directly alert your residents via the channel they choose to receive information (mobile app, text, email, or phone call) about an emergency or public works notice from a trusted source.

Social media is based on consumption and pulling in information, whereas mass notification is based on alerting and pushing out critical and relevant information to your citizens who have registered.

TRUSTED SOURCE VS MISINFORMATION

During critical events, your residents want to hear from you and be provided with information from a trusted and reliable source. Information can easily become misinformation online with comments and shares including mis-leading or incorrect “facts”.

RELEVANT INFORMATION TO LOCATION SPECIFIC AUDIENCES

To avoid message fatigue and ensure that important messages are provided to your citizens, advanced geofencing capabilities make Voyent Alert! notifications relevant.  Notifications only alert only residents who need to know of an event or situation. Social media can communicate your message, but it will be broadcast to everyone. It is not targeted.

Example:  You need to notify a specific region in your community that a main road is closed due to construction or garbage collection dates have changed.

  • Easily reach these specific citizens with GPS targeted notifications
  • Decrease confusion in the rest of your community, as only relevant recipients receive the message vs a broadcasted message
  • More affordable that traditional communication methods such as signage and flyers

UTILIZE A FULL TOOLKIT

Don’t get us wrong, social media is a valuable tool to communicate and drive awareness, but it isn’t reliable in times of crisis, during an emergency or to provide notifications that are location targeted and relevant to your citizens. Social media is a great option to share your information and is an integral piece of a communication strategy, but it should not be the only tool in your tool kit to reliably notify your residents.

A study published in the International Journal of Business Information Systems studying the effectiveness of using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread information during campus emergencies, found that it was helpful, but “the researchers caution that other users may post misleading information, or students may not subscribe to certain channels. As such, they recommend universities continue to deploy traditional methods as their primary notification system and use social media to provide supplemental information.”

Mass notification system for emergency alerts
Mass notification system for employee safety and business continuity

To make it easier for you to communicate and utilize all your tools at the same time, Voyent Alert! does provide the ability to share your message on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter with one click, in addition to your targeted and enriched notification sent directly to your citizens.

Interested in discussing more about how to utilize all the tools in your toolkit to notify citizens easily and rapidly during critical events and day to day happenings, speak with one of our community engagement team members.

Resources:

University of Buffalo: Social media can help alert students during campus emergencies, study finds.

Student Project at Carnegie Melon: Emergency Messaging with Social Media

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