S.C. EMD’s Facebook post on Nov. 3 for daylight saving time. The caption is a play on Cher’s song, “Turn Back Time.” (Photos courtesy of SC Emergency Management Division’s social media)
While scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, you may come across a funny meme that doubles as a reminder for disaster preparedness.
That’s South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s social media goal, and oftentimes, it works.
The agency’s social media posts include memes, double entendres and wordplay. One of its popular posts, shared the morning of Nov. 3, reminded the public of daylight saving time through Cher’s “Turn Back Time.” Within 24 hours, it already had received more than 1,300 reactions and 1,000 shares.
When Brian Kirby, a former police officer and resident of Dorchester County who follows the agency on Twitter, sees the different humorous posts, he sends them to his wife.
“Whoever is doing these posts has been given the freedom to engage with people in that way which I really appreciate a lot,” Kirby said. “… I think it’s a win-win. We get a little bit of humor in our day, and they’re able to maintain some attention on what quite frankly is a usually boring or uninteresting topic,” Kirby said.
So it’s not just the agency’s employees who are having a good time.
The agency recently — repeatedly — told people that a 2.5 earthquake near Elgin was NOT a 4.0.
“I think I heard from your mom that it was a 4.0,” one Twitter user responded.
The comments went on from there.
Derrec Becker and Howard Quintanilla are the two social media gurus for the division. Becker has been with the division for nearly two decades, while Quintanilla, who has been deemed the “Meme King,” was hired earlier this year.
Becker said while the main job of public information officers remains getting people information, “the method in which we go about it has changed drastically just in the last 10 years alone.”
The duo recalled winter weather the state experienced in the early months of 2022. The messaging in the posts were accurate, but boring, Becker said. The solution was spicing up the social media with some fun.
“Finding fifty shades of emergency supplies can leave you lonely on this, the Day of Love,” one Valentine’s Day Facebook post said. The post continues with tongue-in-cheek battery puns. “Before you get in a tight spot, remember to test anything that runs on batteries … like flashlights.”
Mick Mayers, a retired fire chief for Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue, appreciates how the management division keeps eyes on their posts, regardless of the state’s emergency status.
“They do put a little spin on everything just to try and get your attention,” Mayers said. “I think that’s what it should be all about. Their job is to educate and to get the word out to people, and that’s what they’re doing.”
SCEMD has Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and Becker said it even has a LinkedIn.
When the question of TikTok came up, he said, “We know our limits.”
Becker said it’s possible the agency will participate in the newer social media, but in an ironic way.
“Like we do everything else,” Quintanilla responded with a laugh.
One tweet that is still being re-shared, Becker said, was their Williams-Brice tweet.
During the Gamecocks’ raucous football game against Texas A&M, multiple people kept “sliding into our DMs,” Becker said. To nip any concerns of earthquakes in the bud, EMD tweeted:
“No. That’s not an earthquake in the midlands. That’s Willams-Brice stadium. Stop calling.”
As of Nov. 4, the tweet had more than 5,500 likes and 1,200 retweets.
“It’s our deadpan posts that are just done very quickly that get the most attention,” Becker said.
When asked how they come up with their posts, Quintanilla jokingly said, “We’re just wild and wacky.”
“We’re speaking our truth, I guess you could say,” Becker said.
One of the fans, Mayers, said he admires what the state division is doing, in part because of his role as a federal response professional.
“We depend on agencies like that to get that kind of word out to have people prepared,” Mayers said.
The goal of the posts, Becker and Quintanilla said, still is to prepare people before the emergency.
“You want to prepare for emergencies on a beautiful day,” Becker said. “When the sun is out and the sky is blue, that’s when you want to have the conversations. Not in the thick of it.”
Another post on the the Facebook page was about much-despised candy corn, comparing it to a “disaster.” When asked about it by a reporter, an argument ensued.
“Who doesn’t hate candy corn?” Quintanilla asked.
“I personally love candy corn,” Becker responded.
The candy corn conversation became a sweet-potato pie shakedown. Becker asked how Quintanilla couldn’t love something as “caramellious” as the pie.
Becker threatened to revoke Quintanilla’s “Southerner” card.
“I will make one for you,” Becker said. “It’s my great-grandmother’s recipe. You will change (your) mind. The Earth will move.”
If it does, don’t call them. It’s not an earthquake.
S.C. EMD’s Facebook post. The caption is a parody of the poem from “10 Things I Hate About You.”
Screenshot of S.C. EMD’s Facebook from Valentine’s Day 2022. The post has double entendres and puns about batteries.
S.C. EMD’s Facebook post about candy corn posted shortly after Halloween 2022. The post was made by Derrek Becker, the chief public information officer for the EMD, who said he actually loves candy corn.
S.C. EMD’s Facebook post from Mar. 2, 2022 about earthquakes. South Carolina experienced earthquakes repeatedly in 2022, so the post jokes about going a full month without one.