Social Media in Emergencies (Part of UNHCR Emergency Handbook)

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Quick Facts

Publishing Organisation:
Covers Thematic
  • Content creation Social media content creation is arguably one of the most important aspects of a social media marketing campaign. Social media content creation is an art, and one that requires an extra amount of patience, creativity, and education around graphic design, copy creation, and color composition.</br></br></br>Source:
  • Crisis communication Crisis communication is a strategic approach to corresponding with people and organizations during a disruptive event. When a crisis occurs, proactive, quick and detailed communication is critical.</br></br></br>Source:
  • Target audience
  • Policy Makers local, national, and European agencies and institutes, public authorities, standardization bodies
  • Practitioners Practitioners is a target group in LINKS which comprises local, national and European disaster management organizations, civil protection agencies, first responders, NGOs, security networks...
  • Audience experience level
  • Starter Those who are not currently using social media, or the current use is based on providing general information and advice to citizens</br></br>Source:
  • Disaster Management Phase
  • During Also referred to as "Response Phase"</br></br>Actions taken directly before, during or immediately after a disaster in order to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety and meet the basic subsistence needs of the people affected.</br></br>Annotation: Disaster response is predominantly focused on immediate and short-term needs and is sometimes called disaster relief. Effective, efficient and timely response relies on disaster risk-informed preparedness measures, including the development of the response capacities of individuals, communities, organizations, countries and the international community.</br></br>Source:
  • Synopsis

    Key points

    • Document what you are seeing:
      • take photos and short videos.
    • Seek informed consent from anyone featured in your photographs and videos.
      • Make sure they understand that their image might be distributed widely on internet, broadcast on television, etc.
    • Where possible, let people talk about their own experiences;
      • do not speak for them.
    • For video,
      • hold the camera horizontally so television broadcasters can use it
    • For Twitter,
      • turn on the SMS feature so you can send and receive messages via SMS without need of an internet connection.

    Top Tips for Staff Using Social Media

    • Think before you post and use common sense
    • Be aware that, when you share facts or opinions, it may be assumed that you endorse that information.
      • Don't say anything online that you wouldn't be comfortable seeing quoted on CNN, being asked about by your mother, or justifying to your boss.
    • Be honest.
      • Do not mislead or invite misinterpretation. If you did not witness an event, do not imply that you did. UNHCR's credibility may be at stake.
    • Be accurate.
      • Outdated figures or erroneous information can spread rapidly on socialmedia. Always double-check your facts before posting.
    • Be clear.
      • If your post might be misinterpreted, find a clearer way to phrase your message.
    • Exercise discretion.
      • Leave sensitive issues to personnel specifically authorized to speak on them. When in doubt, consult your supervisor.
    • Respect confidentiality.
      • Do not share information that is not meant for external audiences, such as details that could compromise diplomacy or protection.
    • Ensure safety and protection.
      • Bear in mind that information you post, especially locations or personal details, could put you or others at risk.
    • Show respect and seek consent.
      • When you talk about, photograph or videotape people we protect and assist, strive to respect their dignity.
    • Avoid taking sides.
      • UNHCR personnel must honor humanitarian principles, including impartiality, neutrality and independence. Refrain from making political statements that might compromise UNHCR's relationships with governments, partners or other stakeholders.
    • Stick with what you know.
      • When talking about UNHCR's work, focus on your own experiences and areas of expertise.

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