Publication Date
Publication Date: 
May 16, 2012

"By adding social media to the annual work plans and official set of strategies that are being used in an emergency, you will be able to reduce opposition, increase internal awareness and buy-in for your activities..."

Focusing on the use of social media to communicate with the general public and the media in emergency situations, these guidelines are designed to assist communications officers at United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) headquarters, at regional and UNICEF country offices, and in national committees. Social media is described here as a means to ensure that information reaches the intended audience as part of an overall communications mix that includes offline media as well as other digital tools such as websites or email newsletters. The guidelines are intended to enhance learning of professionals across a range of C4D skills, and, as a living document, contributions for updating are encouraged through the contact information below.

As outlined here, the main goals for using social media in emergencies include goals such as: increasing awareness for the situation of the disaster-affected population, particularly children and women; advancing awareness of and support for children's rights and immediate needs; generating positive media coverage (e.g., about what UNICEF and UNICEF partners are doing in response to the needs of the affected population); and mobilising people for relevant actions.

After outlining the purpose of the guidelines, the resource explores topics such as: emergency preparedness for social media practitioners, key networks and tools for communicating in emergencies, use of social media in the different phases of an emergency, social media monitoring and impact evaluation, and related documents and links.

For instance, one tip includes: "Prepare fact sheets with statistics about the areas that experience recurring emergencies. Include how many children live there; basic information about the population living in the area; important socio-economical data; information about the public health situation; etc. Include also information related to social media platforms and channels."

The "Expand your network" section addresses accommodating various partners using social media for connecting to specific groups:

  • "Connect with UNICEF colleagues in your country
  • Connect with the rest of the UN family and implementing partners
  • Connect with journalists, bloggers and local/regional goodwill ambassadors
  • Connect with the affected population, general public and diaspora
  • Social media and corporate social responsibility
  • Get the word out
  • Show that you are listening"

There is a monitoring and an impact evaluation section on page 44 with recommendations and methods to follow results for both security and impact analysis.

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UNICEF website, accessed October 17 2014.