Abstract: We discuss the results of a research project aimed at exploring the use of social media in emergency communication by officers operating at a local level. We performed 16 semi-structured interviews with national level expert informants, and with officers operating at the municipality and province (prefectures) level in an Italian region (respondents were selected based on their involvement in emergency communication and/or emergency management processes). Social media usage appears distributed over a continuum of engagement, ranging from very basic usage to using social media by adopting a broadcasting approach, to deeper engagement, which also includes continuous interaction with citizens. Two main attitudes emerge both in the narrative style and in social media representations: some respondents seem to adopt an institutional attitude, while others adopt a practical-professional attitude. Among the main barriers to a broader adoption of social media, cultural considerations seem to prevail, along with the lack of personnel, a general concern toward social media communication reliability, and the perceived distance between the formal role of institutions and the informal nature of social media communication.