Having been adopted by such celebrities as Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, and Shaquille O’Neal has made Twitter into the current rockstar of the Social Media services. Even with all this exposure, there are still two questions that are constantly being asked regarding the service…
Twitter is a service that delivers text based messages 140 characters at a time. When it was originally founded and made public in 2006 (11 months before the 2007 release of the popular iPhone) the service bridged the gap of communication between the web and mobile cell users using the Short Message Service (SMS) feature of their phones. It was the 140 character limit that enabled this compatibility.
In a few short months, Twitter became the defacto watercooler for the Internet. It allowed users to update their “status” that their friends would subscribe to, and vice versa. It enables users to hold conversations utilizing the at symbol (@) before the Twitter Username indicating a reply, thread conversations using the pound symbol (#), and re-broadcast a message using RT @TwitterUsername (message).
One of the things that has endeared users to Twitter is it’s history of feature updates based on how the users actually utilize the service. Replying, re-tweeting, and threading by hashtag all began through user habits and were added into the feature set of the service later on.
Here are some initial actions for you to take in using Twitter:
After you have established your Twitter presence it is important to interact with the community by engaging in conversation and providing relevant content. If someone asks a question that you know the answer then go right ahead and answer it. Ask questions yourself to spark conversations and build content for your Hub from them.
@EveryDayEMSTips is constantly sparking conversation by asking questions and then delivering the answers in unique and valuable content to their readers not necessarily involved with Twitter
To get the most out of this series it is highly recommended that you sign up for our Free E-Mail Social Media Bootcamp if you haven’t done so already since we will be referencing techniques and terms introduced in that program
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Tomorrow night is the premiere of the new NBC show Trauma. The show is about paramedics in San Francisco. A group of EMS podcasters and bloggers is planning an online premiere party and post show call-in discussion using the social media tool TalkShoe.com. The principles being used for this event could be applied to virtually any event that your emergency response agency is involved.
While the premiere of Trauma has been months in the making, planning for the online premiere party began late last week. In just a few days tens of thousands of EMS professionals from around the world have been invited to the event by Jamie Davis, Greg Friese, and Chris Montera with use of social media tools.
1. Numerous Twitter announcements with links to the TalkShoe.com page for the event as well as press releases and blog posts about the party. Greg used Hootsuite.com to schedule two a day Twitter messages to multiple Twitter accounts.
2. Posting links in personal Facebook personal and group pages. Jamie’s Twitter followers are different than his Facebook followers. Facebook comments also provide a chance for social testimonial which means seeing that others are planning to participate may encourage others to get involved.
3. Distribution of press releases by email to media contacts. EMS related websites can rapidly add new content. Even though the press release for the event was not written until Friday morning it was posted on several EMS websites by that afternoon.
4. Use of TalkShoe.com for live broadcast during the premiere. Listeners will be able to chat with Jamie, Greg, and Chris and each other. After the premiere is over TalkShoe will be used to take calls from listeners.
5. Asking other bloggers to participate by posting the premiere party announcement, embedding the TalkShoe.com widget at their site, and share their comments about the show to their readers.
Before any of this could happen the bloggers and podcasters involved needed to have a social media presence. Jamie Davis, the podmedic, has recorded nearly 200 episodes of his podcast the MedicCast. He also has established a Facebook fan page and regularly posts to Twitter. Even more importantly he creates relationships on Twitter by contributing to conversations by using the @reply. Chris Montera started a family of podcasts in late 2008. The three weekly podcasts – EMSEduCast, EMS Garage, and EMS Leadership – have a combined audience of nearly 20,000 users. Chris participates regularly in the EMS social networks of EMSUnited, JEMSConnect, and EMSConnect. Greg Friese blogs regularly, was an early EMS Twitter adopter, and has co-produced the EMSEduCast. So this group already has an audience because of its regular social media content production efforts. Now they can capitalize on those relationships with a special event.
So how can you use social media to complement your next special event? I can envision lots of uses to support fundraisers, special appearances, and injury prevention programs.
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Public Information Officers and social media advocates discuss their presentation about the importance of social media at the Fire Rescue International Conference.
Important points of the interview include:
1. Importance of emergency responders to get involved in social media.
2. Apply basics of PIO to new media and social networking tools to expand your message.
3. Social media is easy to use and departments can get started quickly at little or no cost.
4. Messages can be shared with local media as well as a broader national and international audience.
Link to the video.
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Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media tools are minuscule players in the social media landscape compared to email. Email was the original social media tool and continues to be the primary identifier of choice that other social media tools use for authentication. It is also the main form of social media utilized by the majority of emergency responders. Thus when crafting a social media policy it is important that it addresses appropriate use of email in the workplace if a policy isn’t already in place.
I routinely receive emails from co-workers and administrators that contain content that is overtly political, advocates specific religious beliefs, or contains messages that many might find offensive. The number of emails I received in this category was especially high leading up to the 2008 US Presidential campaign. I can’t imagine a co-worker standing up in a staff meeting and telling all the other employees which God to worship but there seems to be no hesitation to send emails advocating specific religious beliefs while simultaneously slandering other religious beliefs.
When email is used to distribute content that is not appropriate it is an easy leap for employees to inappropriately distribute content on other social media tools. Make sure your workplace social media policy specifically addresses these email issues:
1. Ability and authorization to mail to all employees/user names. Should all employees be able to email all other employees at any time with any content they wish?
2. Forwarding messages from outside senders. The most recent email I received was about the declassification of 9/11 photos. It was forwarded by nine other people before being forwarded to me. It contained at least 100 email addresses of people that I don’t know from several different states.
3. Ability to forward messages to outside receivers. When a message contains my email address and another receiver forwards that email to their entire contact list my email address has just been shared with potentially hundreds or thousands of additional people. It also links my name and email address with the content of the message that I may or may not agree with.
4. Guidelines for appropriate message content. It seems obvious that email from an employer to employees or vice versa should be related to work only. Nonetheless, guidelines about message content may be necessary.
5. Monitor workplace email communication and give feedback as needed. If your employer gives you an email address that email is not private and it is not confidential. Your employer can (and may already) monitor all email sent by its addresses. If you would not say something in a staff meeting or a private meeting with your boss it is probably not appropriate to say in email either.
Share your thoughts on email as the top social media tool and guidelines for use in the workplace.
During the disaster or major incident is the wrong time for a Public Information Officer to implement a social media presence. Emergency response organizations should establish a social media presence to report on routine events and engage with their communities and stakeholders well before a major incident. How is your emergency response organization using social media before a major incident happens? There is not time or resources to establish a social media presence in the midst of the crisis.
This morning I ran several Google searches to identify a social media presence by the major Atlanta are emergency response organizations. This is the results of my search:
Atlanta Fire Department website – most recent news stories are about a November 2008 LODD and Christmas time outreach. My search did not yield any obvious results for an official Fire Department blog or YouTube channel.
Atlanta Police Department website – most recent news story is from 9/2/2009. No obvious links to a blog or other social media content from home page.
Atlanta – Fulton County Emergency Management Agency website – column labeled “Information of Interest” contains a current radar loop and two other news items. In the “Links” column there are two links to real-time flood gauges. There are no obvious links to real-time social media content.
Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross website – crawler across the top of the page does not mention recent or ongoing disaster. Prominent photo with caption”Red Cross Responds to Local Flooding.” Clicking on picture brings me to a “Disaster Updates” page which includes information on ARC efforts to date and locations of shelters.
Social Media Reporting to follow the flood story:
Facebook group Atlanta Flood 2009 has just 21 users at the time this post was written. Members are sharing photos, links, and in-person observations.
YouTube Video. This video – Atlanta Flooding 5 Straight Days of Rain was uploaded yesterday.