Social Media Emergency Management Guidance Tool

Social Media Emergency Management Guidance Tool - Beta Phase

Resources

Characteristics of Effective Digital Volunteer Programs

  • Documented Roles and Responsibilities: Formally define roles and responsibilities through SOPs and MOUs, or through informal volunteer materials with explicit instructions (e.g., a handbook). Relationships grounded in clear expectations, policies or agreements leave little room for misinterpretation of processes and procedures (e.g., activation protocols, consistent training), allowing for better utilization and management of digital volunteers. It is also recommended that digital volunteers sign a service agreement acknowledging their role in assisting the organization.
  • Meeting Cadence: Conduct frequent, consistent volunteer meetings to promote a greater understanding of expectations, encourage accountability and build trust.
  • Regular Training: Participate in and host consistent group trainings across a number of topics that staff and volunteers identify. Not only does regular training improve response and increase digital volunteer engagement, it conveys to skeptical decision makers that those providing SMEM surge support are knowledgeable experts.
  • Active Membership: Provide multiple means to participate in volunteer meetings (i.e., in-person, video conference and teleconference). Disseminate recordings or supporting documentation to those unable to attend in order to advance information sharing.
  • Collaboration: Digital volunteers use real-time, open-source tools before, during and after incidents. Many volunteers also maintain constant contact through instant messaging systems. This dedication to transparent collaboration results in increased information sharing, more effective information management and higher levels of trust, and reduces the duplicity of efforts.
  • Community Building: An organization’s communications with digital volunteers and among volunteers themselves should not be limited to formal meetings and activations. Provide an informal collaboration space on social media or via a communication platform (e.g., Slack) to build trust, buy-in and community ahead of an incident.

Common Digital Volunteer Roles and Responsibilities

  • Incident Decision Makers: Key leadership at the incident level responsible for the overall management of the incident (e.g., Incident Command, Unified Command, Public Information Officer (PIO), Safety Officer, Liaison Officer).
  • Agency Volunteer Manager: In coordination with Incident Decision Makers, the Agency Volunteer Manager defines the mission, confirms informational objectives, activates volunteers for missions and coordinates with the Volunteer Team Lead through all deployment stages. The Agency Volunteer Manager may be a key Incident Decision Maker, Incident Command Staff or internal staff from the organization.
  • Agency Training Coordinator: The Agency Training Coordinator oversees the design of volunteer training materials, training coordination pre- and post-deployment, and measurement of training effectiveness. Some organizations assign the role of Agency Training Coordinator to one individual, while others share the role among multiple people (e.g., Incident Command Staff, Volunteer Team Leader(s), trusted Team Members).
  • Volunteer Team Leader: In coordination with the Agency Volunteer Manager, the Volunteer Team Leader manages selected Team Members to achieve the established mission and objectives. A Team Leader should understand organizational objectives and all the social media platforms volunteers will use to support the objectives. Some practitioners identify more than one Volunteer Team Leader from within their organization or region to ensure social media efforts are sustained 24/7. Team Leader responsibilities can include, but are not limited to:
    • Identifying and selecting available volunteers with the right skills sets;
    • Assigning tasks to volunteers;
    • Managing all volunteers throughout deployment;
    • Communicating progress to the Agency Volunteer Manager; and
    • Alerting the Agency Volunteer Manager of any concerns, with recommended solutions.
  • Team Members: Digital volunteer Team Members contribute to accomplishing an agency’s established mission and objectives through unique skill sets. Typically, these trusted agents include colleagues from within an agency (e.g., PIOs, Emergency Managers (EMs), administrative staff), colleagues from within a discipline (e.g., fire, law enforcement, medical services), EMs or PIOs working in a region, or partner organization staff. For more information on the skill sets and success traits of effective digital volunteer Team Members, see “How to Recruit Digital Volunteers” (Section 2).

Common Digital Volunteer Governance Models

Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST) Model

Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST) Model

For more information on implementing VOST for SMEM and related trainings, visit the Virtual Operations Support Group (VOSG).

Regional Model

Regional Model

Partnership Model

Partnership Model