CDC Leads in Use of Social Media in Preparedness
When it comes to using social media in emergency preparedness, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is miles ahead of the rest preparedness organizations. CDC ‘s extensive use of social media is an indication that more public sector organizations will possibly embrace social media in the weeks and months ahead.
CDC is adopting a very comprehensive and ambitious policy toward social media as evident at www.cdc.gov/socialmedia/. All the social media tools featured at this site provide give CDC access to a specific target audience that enhances its mission of disease control and prevention.
Currently, the CDC is using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, DailyStrength, Youtube, Flickr, Itunes and Second Life. Of all the hundreds of social media tools that exist out there, why did the CDC choose only a few? Certainly, these tools were not chosen at random. They were chosen to meet some specific goals.
In a sense these tools allow CDC to reach different demographics groups. It appears that CDC is tapping into one of the fastest growing growth areas on the Internet – videos. Given the fact that the public loves video content very much, CDC ‘s use of a youtube channel is designed to reach the mass market for video-based content.
The CDC also engages people who are visually incline through the use of flickr, a social media tool that is best at displaying photos with the possibility of viewers and friends to make comments. The fact that flickr offers a feedback element strengthens CDC ‘s desire to engage the public meaningfully in an interactive manner.
For breaking news, CDC has three twitter accounts serving CDC eHealth, CDC Emergency and CDC Flu. It appears that the fact that Twitter allows for quick delivery of information and breaking news is extremely in case where there are sudden changes in epidemiological incidents or outbreaks.
Surprisingly, CDC does not have a blog to consolidate information on one platform. Unlike the American Red Cross which is also a pacesetting leader in the use of social media, CDC for some reason does not use a blog. This appears to be a misguided decision because otherwise a blog can integrate information dissemination like press releases, calendar of events and podcasts.
At best, it is still unclear why CDC has also adopted second life and daily itunes. However, it is clear that it is adopting daily strength as bond-strengthening online site for followers or fans who may run into emotional setbacks resulting from disease situations. As a tool for recovery and building resiliency pre and post disaster, this is a very smart move on the part of the CDC.
My assessment is that emergency management organizations that are serious about the use of social media, should use similar tool like the CDC. These tools are certainly relevant for all the phases of emergency management, from mitigation to recovery.
Gideon F. For-mukwai, CEM
Emergency Management Trainer & Facilitator