Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Web Secret #117: Social Media in a Disaster

Whether you have a business or a private practice, you may have to cope with a disaster. Disasters come in all shapes and sizes and potentially threaten your ability to deliver services and your bottom line.

Consider these disasters:
  • natural - floods, earthquakes, and snowstorms
  • man made - oil spills, or employee goes "postal" in the workplace
  • health related - terminal/chronic illness, death, and pandemics
Should you use social media to manage a disaster? Does it work? How would you use it?

In a recent blog post, social media expert Jeff Bulla, cited a major Red Cross study that assessed the role and importance of social media in disasters. They asked “what is the general level of use of social media in the community?” and found:
  • Nearly 3 in 4 participate in at least one online community or social network.
  • The majority (82 percent) participates in social media at least once a week.
Those surveyed had strong expectations about the role of social media in the event of a disaster or emergency:
  • About half would sign up for emails, text alerts, etc. to receive information.
  • About half would mention emergencies on their social media channels.
  • Facebook was the most commonly used channel.
  • Nearly half would use social media to let loved ones know they are safe.
  • More than two-thirds agree that responders should monitor and respond to postings on their websites.
  • Younger people are more likely to request help through social media or text messaging.
So what do these results mean for you?
  • You need to proactively plan your use of social media during a potential crisis.
  • You need to establish policies/best practices for your use of social media.
  • If you don’t - others will do it for you - and you will have lost control of the message.
  • The younger your employee population - the more important this planning becomes.
What tools might you use to accomplish this?
  • Probably nothing is faster than using an existing Twitter account. Another option is to create an account that remains dormant except in the event of an emergency.
  • Post info on the wall of your Facebook.
  • Post info on your website (this can be very slow).
  • For a more ongoing response, consider creating a dedicated blog to provide information, tips, etc.
Remember the Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared." The time to figure out how you would use social media in an emergency is NOW.

No comments:

Post a Comment