When earthquakes hit, Geological Survey turns to Twitter, Facebook

U.S. Geological Survey communicates with the public—and seeks its help in crowdsourcing—through social media.

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When the earthquake hit Virginia and Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Twitter and Facebook users tweeted their impressions and searched the Web to find out what that rattling was all about.

Many of them ended up exploring the social media channels of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), whose duties include tracking earthquakes worldwide.

What people found at the agency’s main Twitter and Facebook feeds were posts that sought to inform the public, recruit citizen data-gatherers and even reach out to employees.

Like all good social media use, this didn’t just happen. The organization both communicates information and harnesses digital media’s power, for example, by asking a simple question: “Did You Feel It?—Tell Us!”

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