Tag Archives: Facebook features

Should you Cross-Post to Social Platforms? What does FEMA do?

Post by: Kim Stephens
twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

The other day in a SMEMchat we debated (briefly) the pros and cons of cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook, particularly the practice of posting to Twitter from Facebook–not necessarily dual  posting from a third party application such as Hootesuite or Tweetdeck. I recalled reading that this was problematic in a scholarly article by  Axel Bruns, et al (see page 12). They were writing about QPS Media (yes, I know everyone is a little tired of me bringing them up) during the flood event of January, 2011. They stated in the report:

Indeed, the social media use of several of these organisations underwent a rapid development process as the emergency unfolded; this is best illustrated using the example of the official Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Queensland Police Service (QPS). Initially, QPS had mainly shared its own advisories and news updates through its Facebook page, with messages automatically crossposted to Twitter. This was problematic for a number of reasons, however: first, the lower 140 character limit for messages on Twitter, compared to Facebook, caused several of these crossposted messages to be truncated and thus unusable (especially when embedded hyperlinks were broken in the process); additionally, this also meant that users on Twitter may first have had to navigate from Twitter to Facebook, to see the full, original message, and then to follow any embedded links to their eventual destination; and even this may only have been possible for users who already had Facebook accounts.

Further, for reasons of site design, Facebook messages are more difficult to share with a larger number of users than those on Twitter, where a simple click of the ‘retweet’ button passes on an incoming message to all of one’s followers; and similarly, ongoing conversations are more difficult to manage on Facebook – where the amount of commentary attached to each of the QPS’s posts was rapidly swamping important information – than on Twitter; indeed, Facebook knows no equivalent to the concept of the hashtag, which allows a large number of users to conduct an open, ongoing, public discussion centred around a common topic. These shortcomings were quickly (and courteously) explained to the QPS media staff by a number of vocal Twitter users, and the QPS used its @QPSmedia Twitter account prominently throughout the rest of the flood crisis.

I have also heard Shayne Adamski, the Senior Manager of Digital Engagement Public Affairs Division, Office of External Affairs at FEMA speak several times and mention that they too craft messages specifically for each platform, for a myriad of reasons. He graciously agreed to an interview and in a follow-up email he stated:

“When it comes to using social media sites to communicate and have a conversation, we don’t write one message and then post it on both Twitter and Facebook.  We write our message for the platform we’re using.  On Twitter, we use any appropriate hashtags that will add value to the message and when appropriate, we cross-link to other Twitter accounts.  On Facebook, because the character limit is much higher than 140 characters, we take the time and write a longer message to take advantage of the fact that we have more room to work with, and when appropriate, we cross-link to other Facebook accounts.  We will also RT messages on Twitter and Share content on Facebook, so it appears in our respective timelines.”

Shayne provided  examples of messages  tailored to the respective platforms. The first pic is of a post to their Facebook account about severe weather. The second is the same day, with the same concept, but the post looks completely different on Twitter.

Shayne went on to state:

“Obviously, during a response, your time is even more limited compared to steady state and you’re being pulled in multiple directions, but there is value in writing the message for the platform you’re using.  And just like anything, practice makes perfect, so utilize the time you have during steady state to practice and get in the habit of writing for the platform.”

From my perspective, I think it is important to also note that different social platforms have different audiences, and the ability to tailor content to target these different groups is one of the great advantages of using social tools. Furthermore, Twitter and Facebook have really different “languages.” I’ve seen organizations post content on their Facebook page so that it reads well on Twitter, including hashtags and acronyms. For those people who are not also on Twitter, this cannot only be #confusing, but also extremely #annoying. Just because something is easier to do doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do.
Tell me if you think I’m off track here!

10 Ways for Emergency Managers to Boost Facebook Content

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Post by: Kim Stephens

Oneforty.com recently posted 25 ideas to liven up the content you share on your Facebook page. This inspired me to write a list specifically for the emergency management community because whenever I present to groups about SMEM one of the most often asked question is “How do we get more people to visit our page?”. Coming up with interesting content day after day or even week after week can become exhausting and can also cause burn out on the part of the person responsible for writing that content. I have discussed this before in other blog posts but I think it is worth revisiting.

Here’s a mix of ideas from the OneForty list (which are in quotes) and my own.

1. “Don’t automate Twitter updates to your Facebook page. They are different platforms, so treat them differently.”

This tip is true for preparedness information but probably doesn’t apply to emergency information. For example,  if there is a tree down on a street and you’d like the information to get out quickly to everyone, you might post something like this:

However, what you don’t want post non-critical information in this same manner because it really can limit the amount of interactivity you get on your site.

2. Don’t only post the weather.

Services that automatically post weather updates to your facebook and twitter accounts make it much easier to post that information in a timely manner, and also takes the burden off of organizations that are short staffed. However, what happens is that you loose any opportunity for engagement with your community. Keep in mind that you are on a “social” platform. Imagine if you were at a party and the person sitting next to you only spouted weather data–you’d probably find a way to move away.

3. “Reply to users’ comments and “likes” on your statuses. The more engagement, the more likely your post will make it to your community members’ newsfeed.”

4. “Have a guest host. Have a celebrity, influencer or company executive take over your Facebook page for an hour or a day to interact directly with community members and answer their questions.”

Instead of “company executive” it might be interesting to have local celebrities take over the page, even it that’s the HighSchool football coach talking about how to keep hydrated in the hot weather. All communities have local celebrities that could be tapped. Plan for someone different once per month and then advertise that they will be available to chat on your page during specific times.

5. “Ask for your community’s opinion – Talk about a question that was asked somewhere else (blog, Twitter, etc) and pose that to your Facebook audience.”

Being open to hear what the community has to say is really what these social media platforms are all about. Asking questions, is a great way to open the door for true dialog.

6. Use lots of photos.

There are many ways to incorporate photos into your stream that allow for people to interact with your page. People really like pictures, particularly of their kids or pets. Ask for members of your community to submit pictures that reflect your preparedness campaign for the month. For example, if your organization is trying to relay info about how to stay cool in the heat, then people could submit pics of dogs playing in the water or their kids in the sprinkler. (This is my dog!) Turn this into a contest for another layer of interactivity.

Other suggestions from OneForty included hosting a caption contest or posting a mystery photo and having people guess who it is. (It might not be wise, however, to put the mayor up there and ask people to guess who it is. He or she might not be too happy if no one knows.)

7. “Ask for your community’s ideas – Ask them what they would like to see in your next blog post, ebook, webinar, advertisement, event etc.”

8. “Ask a hypothetical question. (Example: “Would you rather ____?” “If you could _____”)”

9. Don’t be afraid to be funny.

10. Consider combining the Facebook pages of your community.

At a recent conference for emergency managers for Universities, one of the audience members asked me what I thought about not having separate Facebook page for the Campus Emergency Management. I actually think this is a probably wise, particularly for smaller communities, including smaller towns or counties. All community information could be included on one facebook page: police, fire department, mayor’s office, emergency management, etc.  In truth, local governments are trying to do more with less therefore, combining efforts into one Facebook page is probably prudent. Of course, I understand that that means cooperation will have to occur between and among different agencies, which isn’t always easy. However, if a crisis were to occur, it would be helpful to have this kind of combined effort already in place.

Please add any ideas I might have missed.