Using Social Media in a Crisis

Posted on: February 13, 2014

I like to think of disaster prepping as sort of like a toolbox. I’m always looking for another tool I can toss into it, just in case. Call them redundancies, call them backups, the point is to have multiple means of accomplishing primary goals during an emergency.

Social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter, can and should be thought of as one of those tools.

All but the most basic cell phones sold today come fully equipped with apps for social media. All you have to do is sign in and you’re good to go, ready to post pics of your breakfast, comment about your crazy pet, or lament about yet another breakup. Of course, in an emergency, you can also use these apps to let people know where you are and if you need help.

What is sometimes overlooked about using social media via mobile devices is that you don’t necessarily need an Internet connection to communicate. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, even if a voice call won’t go through and Internet access isn’t available, texting may still work. Facebook and Twitter both can be used via texting, at least to a limited degree. Here’s how that works.

For Facebook, you first need to link up your mobile device with your Facebook account. Do this by logging into your Facebook account on a computer. In the upper right corner of your screen, click on the sprocket icon, then click Settings. At the settings screen, click on Mobile along the left side, then follow the instructions to add your cell number to your account. Once your phone is linked, you simply send a text to 32665 (FBOOK) and your message will post to your Facebook wall. That number is the one to use for the United States as well as many other countries. If you live outside the U.S., do a search online for your own country’s number.

Twitter works in a very similar way. Log in to your Twitter account, click the sprocket icon in the upper right, then click Mobile on the left. Follow the instructions to add your phone to your Twitter account.

With Facebook in particular, posting via text also allows you to receive replies the same way, giving you the means to communicate with the outside world even if you don’t have an Internet connection available.

Using this texting means of posting to social media, you can let people know if you’re ok or if you need help. You can also coordinate rescue efforts as well as check on family and friends.

There are, of course, better ways to get the word out during an emergency. Voice calls and using the Internet are both superior to using social media via texting. But, as I said before, this is one more tool to add to the toolbox.

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