#Sandy’s lessons for government social media

Keep it simple; keep it clear; repeat.

Genevieve Contey and David Miller gave a presentation Wednesday about their experience managing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s social media platforms during Hurricane Sandy.

The presentation included a number of lessons learned. Chief among them: Be as clear as possible during an emergency using “dates, time zones, and only universal abbreviations” and don’t “clog up your feed” with unrelated tweets or Facebook posts.

Here are some other important lessons:

  • As they say in advertising: “Repetition is key.” Don’t assume everyone saw that Tweet you sent 2 hour ago. If it’s super-critical, resend it.
  • Patrol your Facebook page for comments that spread rumors or add false or misleading information. Try to answer the big questions as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t assume your intra-agency social media colleagues are on the same page -- communicate early and often about your strategy and expectations.
  • Show compassion: Those followers who are seeing disaster photos on your Facebook page might be victims themselves. Acknowledge the suffering.
  • Finally: Don’t take a victory lap too soon. Wait at least a week or two -- or more -- before thanking your employees and tooting your agency’s job well-done.