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The Role of Social Media Tools in Crisis Response and Recovery

Emergencies consist of natural disasters such as floods, fire, cyclones, and earthquakes as well as other man-made disasters, including terrorism and riots. In the last decade, these events have become a common phenomenon (Ghosh et al., 2018). During these disasters, one of the most challenging activities is to acquire relevant and reliable information on the event. The world is rapidly moving to reliance on technology, and this has made everyone use one or two gadgets. Social media as one of the technological developments is on an evolutionary course and has become a major influence in most industries in the world today (Simon et al., 2015). Social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter are significant sources of reliable and relevant real-time information related to a crisis.

Objectives of the Study

Main Objective

The main objective of this study is to identify the role of social media tools in crisis response and recovery.

Research Objectives

The following research objectives will guide the researcher to obtain information about the topic under study:

  • To examine the effectiveness of social networks in providing updated information during an emergency to effectively communicate with the community members.
  • To find out the different ways to extract information from social media during a disaster as well as preparedness.
  • To identify the social media implementation approaches during an emergency.
  • To determine the role of social media in providing collaborative communication with community members to prepare them for an emergency.

Research Questions

The following research questions will be used to guide the research paper into finding the intended objective of the study:

  • What is the effectiveness of social networks in providing updated information during an emergency to effectively communicate with the community members?
  • What are the different ways to extract information from social media during a disaster as well as preparedness?
  • What are the social media implementation approaches during an emergency?
  • What is the role of social media in providing collaborative communication with community members to prepare them for an emergency?

Definition of Key Terms


This refers to a sudden calamitous event that undermines the normal functioning of a nation, society, or community and causes harm to humans, loss of property, and economic and environmental losses that surpass the ability to cope using the available resources.


A situation, which presents an abrupt risk to life, health, the environment, and property.


Refers to an act of reacting to an emergency through a disaster management cycle, which attracts resources and attention.

Social Media

This can be defined as digital tools that allow users to quickly create and share information and ideas with the public.

Social Media Management Tools

It refers to a tool used in the management of social media that allows its users to monitor and manage their social media platforms and also determine their reach as well as effectiveness. Some examples of these tools include Tweet Deck, Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and Geofeedia among others.

Review of Related Literature

Social media platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook, are continuously playing a significant role in disaster management and response. These tools were first used by community members to share information amongst them, and are now being adopted by governments, non-governmental organizations, and emergency responders as an important aspect for the management of disasters (Simon et al., 2015). In case of emergencies, social media platforms through individual users from different locations can provide vital real-time information that is useful in the rescue of many people, thereby saving lives and speeding the rescue process.

Social media networks are being developed at a fast rate across the globe. Facebook is the largest social media platform with over 2 billion members and more than 1.4 billion active monthly users (Simon et al., 2015). Twitter also follows suit with over 300 million users that can post short messages of up to 140 characters (Simon et al., 2015). This provides an advantage over traditional media, as they have simple methods of collecting and circulating information. The tools provide unmatched access to published information on a given event by different users.

According to Reuter and Kaufhold (2018), a region such as the City of New Orleans was affected by Hurricane Isaac in 2012 and was among the first to implement the use of social media. This was done through agencies such as FEMA, National Hurricane Center, and the National Weather Service used #NOLA and #Isaac constantly on social media platforms to clarify warnings and alerts. This was effective as it helped in emergency management and the information received from the social networks was very instrumental in the formulation of response efforts (Reuter & Kaufhold, 2018). It is, therefore, important to note that these tools are crucial in emergency and disaster management.

Research Methodology

The research paper will use survey research (cross-sectional design). This type of research is used to investigate beliefs, trends, attitudes, and the needs of people about a particular problem. The researcher is interested in learning about the role of social media tools in emergency response and recovery. The study will be conducted online using Qualtrics survey software to collect data from the respondents. Since emergencies happen in different areas with no specific patterns, the sample population will be obtained through random sampling. The latter enabled participants to have equal opportunity to play a role in the research (Devi, 2017). Ethical considerations include receiving consent from the individuals to participate in the study. Before receiving consent, the participant will be made aware of the purpose of the study. The researcher will also let the participant know about the process of the study including any instruments involved.

Limitation of the Study

One of the limitations of this research project is that the researcher cannot make inferences or generalizations from the sample of the population and from the target geographic population to another one. The researcher cannot also generalize the data from my sample to a population in another country or state. Using the Internet as a method to distribute the survey might also create a bias because most of the returned surveys might come from people who have internet access. If responses are received from just one group (internet users), then it will have a non-representative sample. Another limitation of this research project is that it might not be possible to receive enough responses. This is a self-administered survey in which participants read and answer the questionnaire by themselves. This type of survey is limited in reliability because of the potential for incorrect answers/responses due to survey participants not understanding some questions. The research project also does not make predictions. The researcher is unable to predict that changes in one variable can lead to changes in another variable.


Devi, P. S. (2017). Research methodology: A handbook for beginners. Notion Press.

Ghosh, S., Ghosh, K., Ganguly, D., Chakraborty, T., Jones, G. J., Moens, M. F., & Imran, M. (2018). Exploitation of social media for emergency relief and preparedness: Recent research and trends. Information Systems Frontiers, 20(5), 901-907.

Reuter, C. & Kaufhold, M. A. (2018). Fifteen years of social media in emergencies: a retrospective review and future directions for crisis informatics. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 26(1), 41-57.

Simon, T., Goldberg, A., & Adini, B. (2015). Socializing in emergencies—A review of the use of social media in emergency situations. International Journal of Information Management, 35(5), 609-619.


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