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J Health Commun. 2015;20(6):687-96. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2015.1018566. Epub 2015 Apr 30.

Reaching the global community during disasters: findings from a content analysis of the organizational use of Twitter after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

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a Department of Global Health , Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University , Washington , DC , USA.


Social networking sites provide virtual environments in which individuals and organizations exchange real-time information on a multitude of topics, including health promotion and disease prevention. The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti has been posited as a turning point in the way in which organizations use social media, such as Twitter, for crisis communication. The purpose of this content analysis was to explore whether organizations' use of Twitter changed after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. A team of 13 coders analyzed all English-language tweets (N = 2,616) during the 3 months before and post earthquake from 6 leading organizations in the Haiti disaster relief efforts. Study findings indicate that the ways in which organizations used Twitter changed over time. Chi-square analyses demonstrated that organizations decreased in their use of certain strategies to disseminate information through Twitter, such as the use of links. Organizations did not change in their use of techniques to involve users (e.g., retweet, call to action), with the exception of using tweets as a fundraising mechanism. Study findings highlight missed opportunities among organizations to maximize Twitter in order to encourage more interactive and immediate communication with the global community.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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