Post by: Kim Stephens
My last contribution to the December List of top SMEM locations was NY’s Digital Road Map, I immediately heard from readers–“Hey! That’s not fair. They have budgets that we can only fantasize about.” No one said that exact statement, but that was the sentiment.
As Jim Garrow’s 12 Day’s of SMEM post highlighted, it does not take a lot of money, or even talent, to start a social media campaign. First and foremost, it takes a purpose. He reminded us of how the CDC got started: the threat was H1N1; the goal was to reach as many citizens as possible; the objective was to inform people how to protect themselves; the vehicle was a conference room, a videocamera, and a free YouTube account.
The objective for most public safety messaging is ultimately to change behavior. But getting people to do something out-of-the-ordinary, such as packing a “go-kit,” is difficult. So for today’s entry I submit the Clark Regional Emergency Service Agency (CRESA) and their 30Days 30 Ways preparedness game as a top SMEM destination of choice.
The Rationale: This campaign was launched for the first time last September for the 2010 Emergency Preparedness month and was done again, with improvements from lessons learned, for this year’s 2011 Preparedness Campaign. CRESA, thanks to their forward thinking Emergency Manager Cheryl Bledsoe (known in some circles as “that tech girl”, known in the #SMEM circle as “that brilliant woman”) is no stranger to social media, with a presence on Facebook and Twitter, including a Facebook widget on the CRESA homepage, and a blog. Cheryl herself also runs sm4em.org.
The Example: 30 Days 30 Ways was a game designed to not only give people information about emergency preparedness, but to compel them to act upon that information. Contestants were asked to complete 1-3 simple preparedness tasks every single day during the month of September . Game rules were posted that outlined 1. Who could play: answer, everyone; 2. How to play: instructions for each task and how to get credit were posted on the website and included such things as filling in an online forms and sharing information via social networks. I love Task 2 which had contestestants fill out a questionnaire asking “Who is Your Local Emergency Management Provider?”. And 3. What you would win. Most of the prizes were fairly small tokens, but clearly that’s not why people participated. It seems to me that people enjoy being part of a game that has “buzz”. Seeing tweets and posts about the events everyday served to peak interest and make people feel like they should sign-up or they were missing out. According to their own stats 2010, 608 preparedness tasks were completed. In 2011, nearly 2,000 preparedness questions & tasks were answered or completed.
I think this a wonderful example of how to engage your community with typically dull preparedness messages in a new and decidedly none-boring way. It will be fun to see how this game progresses each year. It would be interesting if schools used the contest to see which campus had the most prepared families. They could “win” bragging rights to proudly display a cool badge of preparedness on their websites and social media. Often, just a simple badge is enough to entice people to participate.
It seems with web and social networking contests, organizations are only limited their own collective imagination and initiative. We are all just grateful Cheryl and CRESA have shown us how to start.
SMEM December’s Best