One County’s Social Media Stats: Hurricane Sandy

Post by: Kim Stephens

Fairfax County, VA’s Office of Public Affairs published their Social Media “Metrics Report” which provides a quantitative assessment of how well their social media presence was received during Hurricane Sandy (October 26-31 specifically). One of the more interesting components is the comparison to their social media numbers during Hurricane Irene, a big event for the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area.

Three items from this report stood out to me:

1. 384,651 Blog views to their “Fairfax CountyEmergency Information Blog.” That number is up from “just” 51,000 views during Hurricane Irene. How did they do it? They simply posted information people needed. For example, I personally linked to one of their blogs posts “What to do if a tree hits your house” on the Facebook page I was helping administer during the storm. One citizen commented: “Thanks for posting this, I was wondering what to do if that happened.” (I’d like to point out that this kind of blog post could be written in advance.)

According to their stats, people found their way to the blog from many different sources,  illustrating the concept of an integrated social media ecosystem. Specifically, people found the blog via  Facebook and  Twitter, but also from the the Fairfax County website, as well as from the local news station’s website.

2. Their Ushahidi map trial was well received. They state the purpose of the mapping effort in the report:

“During Hurricane Sandy, we introduced two new mapping options for our community: a road closures map that we updated with hourly status changes and a crowdsource reporting map for people to submit what they were seeing to give us better situational awareness.”

How did it go? It went well enough that I’m guessing they will be expanding mapping efforts in future disaster events.  Road closures were a good choice to use in this trial because not only are they very dynamic data points, but are often one of the most asked about issues on social media sites during  and immediately after a storm. Their crowdsourced map had almost 13,000 views with 111 crowdsourced data points, and the road closure map had 16, 473 views.

3. Facebook is still a big player. After Hurricane Irene I was impressed that Fairfax County had 879  “Likes” (meaning the number of people who “liked” specific posts and comments, not the number of fans of the page). However, that pales in comparison to the 10,175 “Likes” they received during Sandy. They reached over 127, 254 people “virally” every day during this six-day period. A “viral reach” simply means citizens were re-sharing the Fairfax County content on their own Facebook pages. This type of viral content sharing should be a goal of every public safety organization. Why? Although it seems backwards, people often head warnings and take content more seriously if they receive it from friends versus government agencies.

What were your numbers? Are you tracking them? (I do realize that at time of writing this event is far from over for too many people.)

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5 responses to “One County’s Social Media Stats: Hurricane Sandy

  1. Director Doreen Olko

    Reblogged this on Auburn Hills Department of Emergency Services and commented:
    Since we just did a tabletop and updated our Emergency Operations Plan–emergency planning is on my mind and this blog is a very interesting on the use of social media during Hurricane Sandy in a variety of states. A lot to be learned here….

  2. Pingback: One County’s Social Media Stats: Hurricane Sandy | #UASI

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