Wellington’s use of social media kept people informed during storm


If you’ve been in Florida long enough, you’ve been through a hurricane.

Some people have seen lots of them. Emergency operations center have their time-honored and refined strategies in place. Newspapers have veterans of many storms on their staffs, who know exactly how to cover them.

But Hurricane Matthew — or should I say #HurricaneMatthew — presented a new challenge.

To read the latest headlines from Wellington, go to palmbeachpost.com/wellington

When Hurricane Wilma pounded South Florida in 2005, Twitter didn’t exist and Facebook was in its infancy — just a small site for college students only.

Social media has exploded in the past 10 years, and everyone is still trying to catch up with best practices and blueprints on how to handle major events.

Wellington may have its battle-tested plan ready for emergency operations, but for the first time, village staff had to decide how to best use social media.

Village spokeswoman Liz Nunez and the staff decided that the best move would be to blitz Twitter and Facebook with as much information as possible.

Even before the hurricane warning went into effect, the village began posting at least once an hour, updating the residents with specifics about the storm and exactly what people needed to do to prepare.

They decided that the message would be best told from familiar faces, so Nunez enlisted each member of the council to film a public service announcements on how to prepare for the impending storm.

Facebook users, follow postonwellington for the latest news and updates

Once the emergency operations center was activated, they’d film quick videos of Village Manager Paul Schofield after every meeting to keep the people updated.

My strategy as a reporter was much the same. I pumped as many updates to Facebook and Twitter on possible, even filming some quick live videos to the Post on Wellington page.

The hard work paid off on social media for Wellington. The Village’s Facebook account gained 271 new likes that week and its Twitter got 100 new followers.

Going forward, Nunez said the key will be to continue posting interesting information to the accounts to grow the pages before another emergency situation.

“My takeaway from this is there is never enough when it comes to social media,” she said.


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