Real-time Social Media Play

Real-time Social Media Play

There are many strong benefits to using this approach in an exercise setting, including increased realism, universal accessibility, and the ability of players to gain experience and familiarity with real-world, hands-on social media tools and practices.

The effective use of social media is an essential element of a comprehensive emergency public information program. It is critical that social media plans and procedures be regularly tested in a robust and realistic exercise environment, with the goal of identifying what works well and what improvements may be necessary. As with all elements of an exercise, social media play must occur in a safe, controlled manner, to ensure that exercise communications are not mistaken for a real-world situation.

With guidance and assistance from NPAA staff, participants use exercise-specific accounts on native social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). To keep communications secure, these accounts are closed and protected so that exercise information is only visible to approved participants. Once these accounts are established, they can be used during exercises in the same way that agencies use their actual sites in a real event – to share information, gather intelligence, engage with the public, etc.

There are several benefits to using real social media platforms in exercises rather than proprietary software tools that only mimic existing sites. These benefits include: unparalleled realism, universal accessibility, no-cost, valuable, hands-on experience with real-world tools, and the ability to introduce new platforms as they gain currency within the emergency management community.

ETN and Social Media Simulation Process

To provide users with flexible, scalable mock media and social media simulation support, Argonne offers a range of onsite and virtual exercise options – from onsite participation in large, full-scale exercises, to virtual support for smaller drills and exercises that are part of regular community training. In all instances, NPAA representatives work closely with the exercise management team during the planning phase to ensure that the mock media and social media simulation is seamlessly integrated and successfully executed, as well as offering constructive feedback during the post-exercise evaluation process.

ETN and Social Media Virtual Support: Argonne mock media reporters and social media simulation staff participate remotely in training, drills and exercises, making phone calls, conducting interviews and posting news stories to ETN, as well as engaging in social media play. By strategically employing new technological tools and communication platforms, including ETN, the remote mock media and social media team is able to interact effectively and realistically with local participants, creating a challenging environment in which emergency public information response capabilities can be tested and validated.


The Difference

ETN and Social Media Onsite Support: Mock media reporters and social media simulation staff travel to the site. Based on scenario events and player actions, reporters produce radio, print and broadcast news stories and post to ETN for players to monitor and respond to. Mock media go to field play locations, conduct interviews and participate in news conferences broadcast live on ETN. Simulated social media messages are generated and disseminated during the exercise by the simulation cell and mock media staff to reflect what the public and media would be saying during an actual emergency. Some messages are scripted in advance to drive play and are injected at pre-determined times. Other messages are injected in real-time based on how the exercise play is unfolding and in response to player actions.

Social Media Simulation Process: NPAA’s process for exercising social media with real-world tools requires limited assistance and does not require NPAA support once initial set-up and training has been conducted. Agencies can use simulated social media play on-demand at no-cost, using internal resources and staffing, and augmented as desired by NPAA staff.

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