Hurricane Sandy made its landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., around 8 p.m. Eastern time on October 29, 2012. According to Manasquan OEM officials there were 1,850 homes flooded or damaged by wave attack, 1,100 homes in electrical grids that have not been restored (many more homes have had meters removed), 100 displaced Manasquan families reported to the school district, 250-500 displaced families estimated Borough-wide, and approximately 900 residential units currently without gas service. Sandy was the greatest test we could have anticipated when designing this training back in June. In reviewing the data, there is no doubt that the Borough’s online presence was a critical portal of real-time information pre, during, and post Sandy. The analytics below demonstrate how the Borough’s utilized the power of social media for natural hazard risk communication as part of FEMA’s larger Coastal Outreach Program for New Jersey and New York City. Not only did the Borough serve its residents, but also it filled a void in a lack of information generated from neighboring boroughs and communities across FEMA Region II.
Updated Facebook Analytics
- People who actively “liked” the Borough of Manasquan’s Facebook page as of November 14, 2012: 3,689 (a 1,400% increase)
- 10% of Manasquan residents now like the Manasquan Facebook Page.
- Manasquan’s Facebook potential reach is close to one million people! As of November 14 there were 955,790 friends of fans.
- There were 782 new likes on October 31, 2012 alone.
- 106,791 people saw content associated with the Borough’s Page from 10/15/12 to 11/11/12. 97% (103,277) of those views were viral.
- There were 2,559 unique visitors to the Borough’s page on October 31, 2012 resulting in 12,432 page views, the most in one day.
- The largest external referrer was the Borough’s own homepage (www.manasquan-nj.com), with 5,180 people arriving from their homepage during the period 10/15/12 to 11/11/12.
- More likes (1,402) came from mobile devices than any other source.
- An overwhelming majority of fans (70.6%) are women.
- The Borough uploaded over 1,400 photos (30+ albums) and one video during and after Hurricane Sandy.
- The Borough posted over 200 messages from October 25 through November 12, 2012.
Updated Twitter Analytics
- The Borough now has 399 Twitter Followers after Sandy compared with 23 Followers on July 8, 2012 (a 1,635% increase).
- Most re-tweeted original message with 17 re-tweets: “Red Cross to be stationed at the 3rd Avenue Parking lot Sunday from 9am to 3pm. Please pass the word. #manasquan #redcross #sandy”
- Most re-tweeted message from another user (3,902 re-tweets): “RT @fema: #Sandy East coast, search for open shelters by texting: SHELTER + a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). Ex: Shelter 01234 (std rates apply)”
- User most mentioned: @FEMA
- Hashtag most used: #Manasquan followed by #Sandy
- Ratio of followers per person followed in strong: 2.83 Followers for every one person following.
- The Borough is now averaging one tweet per day.
- 42.2% of the Borough’s tweets are re-tweeted.
- For every one Tweet the Borough sends the average is that it will be re-tweeted by other followers 2.34 times.
Testimonials from FB and Twitter
Due to the Borough’s Facebook presence it was featured in the New York Times: “All anyone has so far are the photos the town has posted on its Facebook page. People have been scrutinizing them for signs of damage. Is that house still on its foundation? How high is the sand piled on this one? Where is the waterline on this one?”
Dante - The Hurricane Sandy Dog
Dante came to the Borough Offices through unfortunate circumstances. His owner, running after his dog durng the chaos of the storm, fell ill and was hospitalized. Dante, through the help of neighbors and the Humane Society, was rescued from the harms of the Hurricane and was sent to Borough Hall. Rather than going to the animal shelter, Dante was fostered by Jane and Ed Donovan and is the "office" dog for a time. While his owner is recovering, Dante was given a free physical from Squan Animal Hospital on Lakewood Drive and was treated for a fractured digit and ear infection. Thank you Squan Animal Hospital!
Tim Tollefsen, “I am so grateful for the pictures of the Beach area especially our properties.”
“The photo of the flag being raised by the National Guard has forever stood since my family put it there until sandy tore it down. I was so happy to see that it was put back in its rightful place when I went to do work on my house. I would really appreciate if I could somehow get a copy of the original picture so I can have it framed. Please let me know if this is possible. Thank you. You all have been doing such a great job.” Mary Jane Clark Killeen, Michael Dempsey, Vicky Olender and 5,520 others like this. 1,286 shares, 160 comments.
"Just to let you know that the information you gave us on Facebook during and after the storm was much appreciated and very helpful, not to mention all those wonderful stories showing how generous people are here.
Many of my friends, family and coworkers (I'm a teacher) in France saw terrible pictures on the French news of what happened with Sandy, but mostly in New York City. So I do my best to tell/show them on my blog and on Facebook what the situation is here, in NJ but especially in Monmouth County.
The updates on the Borough of Manasquan page help me give them accurate news. Thank you for that.
One of my friends who is a firefighter in France even joined your page!
Let me tell you, from all the emails I receive every day, how much people from over the Atlantic care for Manasquan and wish everybody here and the town a quick recovery and "bon courage".
Lori Centrella, “You are doing such a great job keeping people informed!! keep it up!!”
Louise Giardelli, “I am need of assistance with clean up. My name is Jacqueline Giardelli at 361 1st ave. my cell phone number is 732-598-9279. My husband and I are in our 80's so it very hard for us to clean up. Your can also contact me through my daughter's email. Thank you.”
Paul Gleitz, “I have to commend all of the information you have provided. It has been timely and invaluable. Thanks for the outstanding job.”
Rebeka Jean,“Thank you so much for all your continued hard work. Everyone needed this info and it helps a lot.”
Marion Vanarelli, “Thank you so much for the updates. It so hard waiting to see our home, but your updates and information are such a help in this difficult time.”
ADOPTING MANASQUAN: Jennifer Rego, a 6th Grade Teacher, recently emailed the Mayor and Council about offering her part in Manasquan's Recovery Efforts.
She wrote "I have been renting a house every summer in Manasquan for years. As a teacher with summers off, I have had the opportunity to live in Manasquan for full summers and work in the area. I have come to love the town so much, that I plan to move there in the future."
Jennifer has seen first hand the level of devastation and helped families clean out their homes of all their belongings.
Through Jennifer's efforts and those of teachers, administrators and students, Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, NJ is lending its support to the Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts by "adopting" Manasquan.
Under Jennifer's leadership, Principal Jim Brown, and other conscientious teachers, the students will be sending all the items they collect to Manasquan for the next month.
The students and faculty of GCMS are keeping Squan residents in their thoughts and prayers during this trying time, and hope their efforts help in the rebuilding process!
Nina Arce @NinaA82, “@ManasquanOEM I've been checking your FB religiously lol”
Joe Delorio, Borough Administrator, "Facebook and Twitter saved our asses! "
- “According to the borough’s Facebook page, the order includes all areas east of the bridges – including the entire beachfront, Deep Creek Drive and Glimmerglass Circle.” http://www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2012/10/manasquan_issues_mandatory_evacuation_orders_due_to_hurricane_sandy.html
- Video of before and after Sandy made from Manasquan’s photos and created by resident Sean W, Chief Geospatial Scientist for LongView. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10101281980946763
Recently I had the privilege to design and conduct and training for emergency management personnel working in New Jersey coastal communities. The Risk Assessment, Mapping and Planning Partners (RAMPP) Program piloted a one-day training for the Borough of Manasquan on “Social Media for Local Government.” The purpose of the workshop was to educate and encourage local government officials to utilize the power of social media for natural hazard risk communication as part of FEMA’s larger Coastal Outreach Program for New Jersey and New York City. FEMA is collaborating closely with the State of New Jersey Cooperating Technical Partners to target key stakeholders, including vulnerable communities, local planners, first responders, and members of the community. To widen the reach of the Program, FEMA is engaging non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and other federal agencies in its efforts.
As part of this effort International Media Solutions was hired to research and understand best practices for natural hazard risk communication; Develop a template for social media posting for one year for a pilot community (the Borough of Manasquan) in New Jersey; Train the pilot community on how to use this technology; and Transfer media knowledge to team members. Specifically we designed and delivered a hands-on training that addressed three of the main RAMPP Program elements as outlined in the Coastal Outreach Strategy and Implementation Plan:
- Strategy development, including key message development;
- Web-based outreach through design of a publicly accessible website and social media promotion via Facebook and Twitter; and
- Outreach efforts surrounding increased mitigation planning.
- People who actively “liked” the Borough of Manasquan’s Facebook page as of July 8, 2012: 246
- The number of unique people who have seen any content associated with the Borough’s Facebook Page in the last seven days (see Viral Reach chart below for the entire month): 2,279
- The number of unique people who are friends with the Borough of Manasquan fans, including the Borough’s current fans: 55,622
- The majority of people reached are between the ages of 25-54 and are roughly 60% Female (please see chart below for more details):
- The most popular post was a notice concerning water safety on June 30, 2012: “IMPORTANT NOTICE - Monmouth County Water Emergency DOES NOT apply to Manasquan.”
- 11 posts have been made to Facebook from June 11 – July 8, 2012. This is more than the twice a week goal the RAMPP Team proposed.
- The top cities reached via the Manasquan Facebook page are precisely the communities the RAMPP Program wanted to target (i.e. coastal communities).
- It has been over a month since the Social Media for Local Government training and some important lessons have been learned:
- Having built the Facebook and Twitter pages in advance allowed the Borough to immediately assume ownership and start implementing what they learned.
- It was extremely helpful to have developed a year’s worth of posts and tweets in advance for staff to use and reference.
- Having two “dummy” sites (one of Facebook and one on Twitter) allowed the participants to practice their newly learned skills through live drill exercises without the fear of friends or colleagues seeing their posts.
- There was a lot of concern about privacy. To ensure nobody’s personal information could be compromised we set up a “fake” Facebook account (in the name of the Borough’s first Mayor) for staff to login and use instead of their personal accounts.
- Distributing the EPA workflow for how to respond to a post was incredibly helpful to the participants to help illustrate that sometimes the best answer is no answer.
- In the evaluations the participants asked for more time for all the participants to practice their skills though live drills. Therefore adding two more laptops to the two already provided for by RAMPP would allow more participants a chance to practice their skills.
- Having a Verizon 4G Hotspot was critical to the running of a smooth training. The hotspot not only allowed us to all access the media sites live, it also allowed us to circumvent the social media firewalls set up by the Borough’s IT Department.
- It is essential to have a strong social media policy in place and enforce that policy.
- According to the anlaytics, the Facebook page has proven to be an incredibly successful tool to disseminate critical information quickly to a diverse audience.
- The Twitter page has not been utilized to the same extent the Facebook page has. This is most likely due to a division of labor. The Manasquan Clerk is responsible for the Facebook page, while Manasquan OEM is responsible for the Twitter feed.
- From the metrics, it is clear there is a real desire for constituents to communicate with local government via mediums they are already using. A complimentary training should be held for county officials to ensure that similar methods are being utilized at the county level.
- All the communities along the Jersey shore should be trained in how to utilize free social media tools to help develop actions that reduce risk before disaster strikes and help diminish damages after a disaster.
After the daylong training participants were left with a basic understanding of how to utilize Facebook and Twitter as a means to disseminate vital news and information to those working and residing in the Borough and Monmouth county. “Living in coastal areas is a shared responsibility – Know your risk, know your role, and take action to reduce risk” is predominately displayed on the Borough’s Facebook page. After only a month into the pilot it is impossible to gage exactly how much impact the training has had, but the fact that over 2,000 people a week are now receiving news and information directly from the Borough is a success in itself. The “viriality” of important updates such as the drinking water notification case study mentioned above, is further evidence that citizens (including media) increasingly turn to sites like Facebook and Twitter for news and information. This is especially true during an emergency.