In my various presentations to first responder and emergency management agencies, one of the few practices I recommend is to use Facebook to mirror the preparedness and emergency info that's on their website. My experience tells me that websites tend to crash under heavy volumes in a disaster while Facebook will likely stay up.
A key example of the use of Facebook to provide an emergency info lifeline is the work by the Queensland Police Service during the floods a couple of years ago. Since then, the QPS social media activities have been hailed as "best practices". When government websites experienced difficulties ... the QPS got on the social media beat with great success.
But Facebook's use goes beyond just providing information (although information IS aid ) ... it's a fantastic tool to help speed up community-led recovery. A prime demonstration of this occurred in Joplin, MO, following a devastating tornado. The citizen-created and driven Joplin Recovery Page on FB became a key engine in helping the town recover and move on. This phenomenal use of SM was noted by many commentators including Kim Stephens and Jim Garrow (my two compadres ! ). The media got in on the act too.
More recently, as tornadoes tore a path of destruction throughout the Southern US, Facebook provided a great tool to help people recover some of their belongings and cherished keepsakes. You can call it crowdsourcing hope ... as we must acknowledge the power of recovering some good and fond memories in the midst of catastrophic events.
It also helped scientist figure out the inner workings of the twisters.
If Facebook can help people reconnect with some of their belongings ... what about helping families and friends find out if disaster victims are safe? Well, it does that too! Only as a test (Disaster Message Board) in Japan at the moment but a broader rollout is not to be excluded.
Finally, FB has proven to be a very effective volunteer coordination tool. Christchurch and the aftermath of the earthquake are foremost in that regard. The Student Volunteer Army's Facebook page was the start of an extraordinary mobilization effort using socially-convergent tools.
For all those reasons and its omnipresence in our lives (particularly in older segments of the population), Facebook is a key #smem technology and sits at number 7 in my top 10 list.
The series so far:
#7: Facebook (Dec. 12)
#8: SMS (Dec. 8)
#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)
Series introduction (Nov. 29)
Jim Garrow's blog
Kim Stephen's blog