4.8 Social media

The media landscape is changing; in additional to traditional media, social media is now a crucial tool for us to get our message out and to make ourselves available to journalists for interviews. Social media channels such as Twitter are regularly used by journalists and the public as a key source of information about breaking news. Increasingly, stories appear first in the social media. CARE must therefore be extremely fast to share information on social media channels, or we will be bypassed. This includes initial social media posts about the disaster and CARE’s reaction, as well as regular, ongoing posts about any breaking news, new events in the emergency, or news about CARE’s response. Posts can be made as often as every few minutes immediately after a rapid onset disaster as new information comes up, or as infrequently as every few weeks in the case of chronic crises where we will only post information if it is new or has a news hook. While the choice of which social media to target depends on the emergency, the two agreed target channels are Facebook and Twitter.

Although communicating on social media networks on behalf of the organisation is the primary responsibility of the communications staff, CARE acknowledges that other staff can add value, and further the organisation’s goals by engaging in social media activities.

For example, if the CARE staff is perceived to be experts or can provide fast, valuable information during an emergency, this could lead to media/fundraising opportunities or media interviews. CEG Communications or the ECO will help staff who are deployed to emergencies¬ (emergency coordinators, sector specialists) to engage in the use of social media, especially Twitter – which is becoming increasingly more influential and an easy tool to raise awareness, share information, participate in discussions and influence decision making. For practical information, and a step-by-step guide on how to engage on Twitter, please refer to: CARE Twitter Training Module for Emergency and CO Staff.

A social media policy helps ensure staff are aware of how to use social media channels on behalf of CARE, and it is the responsibility of the ECO, the Lead Member or CEG Communications to inform staff about it. All staff deployed on behalf of CEG must follow the CI Secretariat Social Media Policy (available August 2013).