User-generated content on the Facebook page of an emergency management agency: A thematic analysis

Jayan Kurian, Blooma JOHN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to explore themes eventuating from the user-generated content posted by users on the Facebook page of an emergency management agency.

An information classification framework was used to classify user-generated content posted by users including all of the content posted during a six month period (January to June 2015). The posts were read and analysed thematically to determine the overarching themes evident across the entire collection of user posts.

The results of the analysis demonstrate that the key themes that eventuate from the user-generated content posted are “Self-preparedness”, “Emergency signalling solutions”, “Unsurpassable companion”, “Aftermath of an emergency”, and “Gratitude towards emergency management staff”. Major user-generated content identified among these themes are status-update, criticism, recommendation, and request.

Research limitations/implications
This study contributes to theory on the development of key themes from user-generated content posted by users on a public social networking site. An analysis of user-generated content identified in this study implies that, Facebook is primarily used for information dissemination, coordination and collaboration, and information seeking in the context of emergency management. Users may gain the benefits of identity construction and social provisions, whereas social conflict is a potential detrimental implication. Other user costs include lack of social support by stakeholders, investment in social infrastructure and additional work force required to alleviate the technological, organisational, and social barriers in communication among stakeholders in emergency management. A collective activity system built upon the Activity Theory was used as a lens to describe users’ activity of posting content on the Facebook page of an emergency management agency.

Practical implications
By analysing the findings, administrators and policy makers of emergency management could identify the extent to which the core principles of disaster recovery are accomplished using public social networking sites. These are achieved in relation to: pre-disaster recovery planning; partnership and inclusiveness; public information messaging; unity of effort; and, psychological recovery to maximise the success of recovery in a disaster. Furthermore, a core principle which evoked a mixed response was timeliness and flexibility.

Previous studies have examined the role of social networking sites in disastrous situations, but to date there has been very little research into determining themes found in user-generated content posted on the Facebook page of an emergency management agency. Hence, this study addresses the gap in literature by conducting a thematic analysis of user-generated content posted on the Facebook page of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-579
Number of pages22
JournalOnline Information Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2017


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