The role of social media in enhancing risk communication and promoting community resilience in the midst of a disaster
The importance of engendering community resilience after a disaster event cannot be overstated. In this chapter, we argue that the strategic design of risk communication messages is critical for communities affected by crises. In the past, many communication practitioners employed the single shot, top-down approach for constructing messages, especially during crises. Given growing recognition of the ineffectiveness of this model, scholars have become more attentive to the role of message design in conveying risk to stakeholders. Specifically, through the lens of the message convergence framework, we argue the need for a multiple messages approach that targets diverse groups of people through various channels, including social media. Not only should multiple messages be present, but response organizations must work with each other to ensure consistency of message content, as the convergence or overlap of information promotes individual decision-making during times of risk and uncertainty.
Additionally, the integration of social media platforms into crisis response plans is imperative. Social media not only are easily accessible and already widely used by much of the public, but in addition to risk message dissemination, social media platforms can allow for the mapping of disasters, which enables responders to better understand the location and distribution of areas most affected by an event. We conclude with recommendations for employing social media in disaster communication research.