Online Program

Tweeting up a storm: The centers for disease control and prevention's (CDC) social media messaging and Hurricane Sandy

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Jay Dempsey, MEd, Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA
Background: As use of web-enabled mobile devices equipped with social media applications has become so prevalent, it's now possible to reach people in the path of natural disasters with important messaging faster than ever before. As Hurricane Sandy approached landfall in late 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) assisted state and local public health partners by developing and sharing storm-related messaging across several social media channels, including an SMS text subscription service to directly reach those affected by the storm. Implementation Strategy/ Outcomes/ Future questions: CDC determined what topics would need coverage each day, ranging from preparing for the storm's arrival, to post-storm safety and clean-up. Once our messages were posted each day, they were retweeted across several official CDC Twitter profiles and via the profiles of local health departments. Leveraging social media proved successful in driving a steady increase in traffic to CDC emergency response web pages. For example, a message about safe clean-up of mold produced 14,881 visits. The NCEH Twitter audience also increased as followers numbered 4,226 at the beginning of October, and growing to 5,215 in November- a 23% increase.While social media is an essential tool for 21st century communication during and after emergencies and natural disasters, obtaining metrics as to how many people actually apply the information shared via social media proves challenging.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how social media can be an important channel for government agencies to share emergency response information. Discuss how use of social media during an emergency response can relay critical, timely information while building your follower audience and establishing your profile or “brand” as a topic expert. Recognize that developing relevant content in advance is a key aspect of successfully responding to emergencies or natural disasters via social media.

Keyword(s): Emergency, Communication Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the social media lead for CDC's National Center for Environmental Health and worked closely with emergency response communicators on the project detailed in the submitted abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.