Lessons Learned from Isaac: How to use Social Media for Crisis Communication
As Hurricane Isaac brewed in the Gulf, FEMA asked its 90,000 Facebook fans one simple favor, “Please Share.” The post went on to include important messaging for those who would be affected by Isaac in the hours to come. Although this is a large-scale example, it is important to know how to effectively use social media during a natural disaster. Here are a few simple tips that can apply to any business, large or small.
This may seem a bit redundant but having a plan in place in case of an emergency is something that will greatly benefit your company. Ensure your entire team has agreed upon a means of communicating through the storm and have all communication devices charged to full capacity. Decide who will be executing on social media and how often updates should be posted. Should you outsource your social media, make sure your preferences and expectations are clearly communicated and that you have a protocol in place so that the person responsible for your account has a way of contacting someone within the company should they have any questions or concerns.
Do not wait until the eye of the storm is over head to acknowledge its existence. It is best to begin monitoring government and news agencies’ social media channels as soon as the storm is on the radar. A great way to do this is through Twitter and Facebook lists, which allow you to select certain handles and pages and aggregate them into a separate feed where you see only those handles’ messages. You will find making the Twitter list “public” allows this not only to be helpful to your company, but also to your followers. Monitoring these accounts will allow you to stay abreast on current news and keep followers updated on how this will affect them and your business. For example: Are you staying open through the storm? Should someone need to get in touch with your company, what is the best way to do so? Remember, you do not have to go silent on social media simply because you are not the weather channel.
According to a recent survey by the American Red Cross, Americans are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile devices and social media to provide and attain information. This means that more people are expecting real-time communication with your company and a timely response. Even if you do not have an answer at that time, letting the person know you are working on it and will get back to them works wonders.
While there is a hurricane, or any natural disaster taking place, make sure you are sensitive and aware of the situation. Posting regular content during a natural crisis can come across as insensitive and as if you are not concerned with the well-being of the people being affected in your area. On the other hand, you do not want to over saturate the issue either. With that being said, try to keep messaging simple and factual to avoid creating a heightened sense of panic amongst your followers.
Although they seem quite simple, these four tips will ensure your company is on the right track to navigate its social media channels through the next storm, or any crisis for that matter. Do you have any thoughts on social media’s influence during natural disasters? Share with us below!