Many people form impressions of events that guide how they think about an issue or a piece of technology. When it comes to how we think about social media it would be good to have more of an objective view of how it has functioned in recent past and not be based on opinions, but facts and studies by sociologists.
We have just such a tool/study in the Social Media Use During Disasters This is fairly recent with the date of the document being December 2012. I must have missed it when it came out. Kim Stephens blogged on it way back in January. I was going through some old email and found it while spending quality time on my computer yesterday while trapped at an airport.
Here's two ah ha's from my perspective that changed my thinking a bit.
- The role that social media and in particular blogs can have on the emotional welfare of people going through a disaster. I had always thought of the facts, information as being king. In reality isn't it about people and not just the information? I need to remind myself about this when blogging on a specific disaster. Blogs are an outlet for people either in their writing or their reading.
- Another role in a disaster for social media is called out as being a place for humor. I love humor and try to work it into my writing and speaking whenever I can. But, blogging, tweeting, posting on Facebook by an agency responding to a disaster and using humor could be a real mine field. People either like it or hate it. We don't need people getting riled up over an off-hand attempt at humor when emotions are running high. Maybe there are those lay people who will try it and be successful, but I say, "Run away, run away!" Don't touch it with a ten foot pole!
I commend the entire document to your reading. Understanding which tool is best for what is an important factoid you can use in your planning and responding.