Brisbane City Council Turned to the Real-Time Power of Social Media During a Crisis

We all know the value of social media during a breaking news event or crisis. Twitter for many has replaced other traditional sources of information when the heat is on.

The 2013 flood crisis in Brisbane, Australia was no exception. Residents quickly turned to social media to consume and distribute information as the natural disaster unfolded.

During a crisis, government and community organizations typically use various social platforms to get their messages out about warnings, closures, and relief efforts.

The result is generally a dynamic—but at times overwhelming and unsubstantiated—flood of information soaking the internet. For citizens relying on this information, authenticity and accuracy are paramount.

When the floods hit Brisbane, the City Council social media team played a key role in distributing important information to citizens. Working in staggered shifts, the team of three worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to ensure that residents had centralized access to the latest and most accurate information curated from a variety of sources.

Brisbane’s Stackla-powered social hub became a central destination for not only their own social media updates, but those of other government services and media outlets assisting in the relief effort. The result was a hub for all information being distributed by official bodies: Fire Brigade, Council, Police, State Emergency Service, and local media. And by using Stackla’s unique moderation and publishing tools, all information published was authentic, relevant, and from a credible source.

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The Stackla social hub was the perfect tool for the City Council to monitor events as they unfolded, with team directing councillors and other key staff to the hub to keep abreast of social media activity around the event. User-generated images from around the city provided a live user-generated image stream as the event unfolded.

Celebrating their award-winning social hub

The use of Stackla has seen Brisbane City Council (BCC) win the AMI Social Marketing Award (National) and the AMI Social Marketing Award (Qld) for their crisis communication approach during the January 2013 floods.

By tracking trending hashtags such as #bnestorm, the public were able to see the effects of the storm and flood water as it passed through the city.

The relevant content the social hub pulled in from official and community organizations was visited over 230,000 times in the three days of the event.

The site was recommended by other lead agencies such as the Lord Mayor, St John’s Ambulance and the Emergency 2.0 Wiki, with the Hub also placed within a tab on Council’s Facebook page as a widget to allow Facebook users to easily access information.

Now, the social hub is used both externally and internally, in particular by a variety of Council departments including Contact Centre and Media & Disaster Operations to ensure that any relevant and timely issues can be viewed and addressed quickly. It also serves as a central engagement tool for residents.

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Recent campaigns such as the City Centre Master Plan actively used the Stackla-powered social hub to collate information throughout the consultation process and it was a key way for residents to inform Council on their recommendations and opinions on some transformative ideas for the city.

The visual component of Stackla, which allows genuine engagement in an aesthetically interesting way, ensures residents are able to see things live, ‘as-they-happen’, and gauge a better feel for the vibe of what’s going on during a campaign or in the city.