Different forms of social media to target different audiences during a disaster


Further, it was perceived that different forms of social media can be targeted towards different audiences, to ensure that information related to disasters more effectively reaches different groups of citizens, for example, some practitioners felt that Twitter may be used to communicate at an institutional level, whilst Facebook has a wide-reaching audience and Instagram may be used to reach younger audiences: “Twitter is an institutional tool that we use to communicate with the regional TV and radio. Facebook is used by individual users, Instagram by young people, mainly for sharing photos. Institutions don’t’ use it… I can create a hashtag on Instagram… and this tool together with #prociv… #allertameteotos, #allertameteolig is widely used by users” (G2; R - see full reference in source document). Citizens’ age was argued by practitioners to reflect their usage of communication technology, with younger citizens using social media: “WhatsApp does. Telegram is also widely used. Its use depends on users’ age and sociability. My son is 14 and he does not use Facebook” (G1; R), “A lot of Instagram’s users are very young; therefore, I cannot “bombard” them with weather alerts, they should receive one alert a month, and I need to concentrate the message using key words so that the message is reported to their family. Otherwise they would unsubscribe” (G2; R5), “if I want to speak to kids I open Facebook it’s wrong because all the kids do not visit Facebook. I should have to catch them on Instagram, or something else” (G3; R2); and older citizens were seen as more likely to use traditional communication means: “Its limitation depends on user’s capability to access the app. I’ll give you an example: my mother is 86, she has a smartphone with all the basic apps. I can explain her 500 times how these apps work, however it is nearly impossible for elderly people to use an app… Considering that our population is ageing rapidly and these communication tools are based on modern technologies which are inaccessible to the elderly. They may be able to read an e-mail or an SMS. In some municipalities, alert messages are sent through SMS” (G1; R8). In this context, it is important not to rely on stereotypes of citizens and their behaviours including their ability to use technologies. Stereotypes of citizens’ attitudes and behaviours are problematic, because there is evidence that older citizens may not use social media as extensively as younger citizens, but they do use mobile phones and they are interested in mobile phone apps. Accordingly, some practitioners questioned such differentiation by age, and they, for example, suggested that even some young people do not use social media, and that computer literacy further effects citizens’ use of social media and apps: “It depends on age, social class and computer literacy. I know young people who are really not involved at all with the social; It depends… it’s a personal choice” (G1; R). “Be careful, social networks do not differentiate age. While till some time ago social networks were mainly used by young people, till 20-25 years old, now people of all ages use the PC, from younger ones to adults and elderly people” (G5; R4).

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