Social Media: Posting When Disaster Strikes

Reporter's notebookIn many, many ways, we are lucky to live in the 21st century! Think of how the Internet has evolved over the past decade – even during the last year. It enriches, and even extends, our lives in many cases. Social media especially keeps us connected and informed in more ways than we ever dreamed possible. Good times, indeed. How many times have you heard “breaking news” through social media before it appeared on television news outlets? It happens a lot for me, since I’m online most of the day (and night). Just like the mainstream news, people broadcast both facts and opinions on social media channels. Is there such a thing as too much disaster posting on social media?

The Boston Marathon Bombings

Many people in my virtual circles ceased posting after the tragic events in Boston. They did so for various reasons, such as showing respect for those who were injured and killed. Others continued posting on social media, as USA Today recently reported. Readers tuned in to various social media channels to learn more information as the events unraveled. Sadly, many received (and believed) information that wasn’t entirely accurate. Dave Kerpen, the CEO of Likeable Media, a social media marketing organization made a fair statement:

“Yet while social network updates can feed a news-hungry audience with relevant and interesting updates, they can also breed false information…

…it was challenging to know what (sources) to trust.”


Trust…this is a key word here. We often trust people we follow on social media on “normal” days, either because we find their posts to be educational or entertaining. Maybe we expect too much of these same people when disasters strike. Breaking news is just that – breaking and fast with no time to check facts before posting. People who post on social media when disaster strikes should keep this in mind, so as to maintain the trust of their readers.

Massive Tornado Strike in Moore, Oklahoma

People once again posted on social media when a devastating tornado hit and destroyed the town Moore, Oklahoma on May 22, 2013. This time seemed different though…maybe because it was a natural event, rather than an act of terror. I’ve seen outpourings of support from so many people on Facebook and Twitter – people who are genuinely upset and concerned about the safety of the people in this Oklahoma town. Many people were close enough to capture and share images and videos of the deadly twister, as well as the horrible aftermath. Some good news came from people posting about this disaster: (1) Victims have been able to find one another through Facebook, and (2) People are expressing support for the victims through hashtags on Twitter, and (3) Red Cross is garnering support and donations for the victims through abundant social media shares.


Truly, there are no set rules for posting on social media during “normal” days; the same holds true when disasters strike. Follow your instincts when tragic events unfold and post what you feel, remembering you have followers who tune in for your postings on a daily basis.

What are your best practices for social media posting during disasters or other tragedies? I’d love to hear your comments and what has worked for you.



USA Today: https://memarketingservices.com://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/04/23/social-media-boston-marathon-bombings/2106701/

Mashable: https://memarketingservices.com://mashable.com/2013/05/20/oklahoma-tornado-social-media/

Live 5 News: https://memarketingservices.com://www.live5news.com/story/22304958/ok-tornado-victims-using-internet-to-find-loved-ones-start-recovery

You may also like

Send this to a friend