The Top 5 Ways Social Media Monitoring Can Help in a Disaster

Kira KirkEducational

When disasters occur, we all want to help.

Since our expertise is in social media monitoring, we thought we would share some actions we took immediately following the earthquake in Nepal.


Nepal graphic

We hope you never find yourself involved in a disaster, but just in case, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 ways social media monitoring can help in a disaster:

1. Use check-ins to find where physical places on the ground are (or were)
Apps like four-square are a great way for first responders to check where things are (or were) in the area. Things like hospitals, grocery and drug stores, restaurants (for canned goods) and emergency services (fire departments, ambulance, police stations) are a few of the places that come to mind

2. Find help
Whether you’re looking for your friends and family, an aid shelter or an open airport. Geographically searching through the social media data in your area can show you what you’re looking for in an emergency.

3. Find out about it instantaneously
This one is best explained by xkcd:

4. See the devastation in a geographic context
The posts coming from the affected regions in Nepal are telling but if you continue to expand your search area you’ll see that the devastation reaches far past Katmandu and into India

5. See where people aren’t posting from
Sometimes the most telling posts are the ones that aren’t there. If you search over an area with a date-range before the disaster and compare the results with afterward, a noticeable drop in posts can confirm the impact of the damage in that area.

So that’s our top 5 list. As we mentioned, we hope you never need to use it! But it could come in handy one day.


We’d love to hear from you! Whether you’ve got something to add to this list or just want to chat, we’re always around, so drop us a line at