You Say Social Media like it’s a Bad Thing

When you see a company trending on social media, do you automatically assume that it’s going to be scandalous gossip? Because I do.  But what if I told you companies could become a player in the game and change the way they appear on social media?

Social media has obliterated traditional communication with its inventiveness and convenience.  Today, it is a rarity to see someone walking around without their phone attached at their hip. This need to be in constant communication with our technologies has changed the way people access information.  “How?” you might ask.  In today’s news reporting world, long before reputable news agencies can report an event, the specifics are already circulating social media avenues in real-time thanks to our societies avid Facebookers and Tweeters.  The answers to all your questions are at your fingertips, quite literally!  You can find an answer to almost any question with a few clicks in Safari or Chrome.

Given its ever-expanding user base, social media has become a powerful tool.  It can be used to shape the publics opinion and even produce desired results from the intended audience!  While social media is often known for being a stage to spread negative comments about an organization, with the proper action plan and team involved it can be used to drive positive outcomes as well.

In our industry of strategic business continuity planning, social media has the potential to revolutionize crisis communications and the way organizations interact with the public.  Social media avenues such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide organizations with a platform to interact with many people in real-time and push short, but important messages, to that audience.

In the past, Crisis Communication Plans were designed to “plug the holes” during an emergency or event.  Organizations worked hard to tightly control and monitor all information that was being communicated about the event, both during and after the event was over.  However, the mere existence of social media is making that near impossible as news leaks are inevitable.

Organizations need to leverage social media and use it to their advantage to regain control of the messages that are being communicated.

So, you might ask… How can your BCP Program embrace social media and use it to its advantage?

A few areas in BCP that can be enhanced by integrating social media are:

  • Risk Management Practices— Leveraging social media tools such as Twitter and Google Alerts to detect potential political, environmental and technological incidents. These tools can help the organization get the inside scope on what clients, employees and other groups are saying about them online.
  • Exercise & Testing— Exercising and testing are all about preparing for a crisis ahead of time. They outline what could potentially happen during an event and how the organization can best prepare in advance.  This same logic applies to social media responses.  Factoring social media into your Exercises will ensure that your employees know what the message is and who should be communicating that message to the public.
  • Brand Protection— Social media can be leveraged as both an offensive and defensive approach to Brand Protection. It can benefit your program by providing a low-cost method, as most social media platforms require no cost to use, that allows you to effectively hit any market, at anytime, anywhere.  It can also be used to build brand intimacy and authenticity between the company and its consumers.

Allowing employees, the ability to post on social media also serves as an effective way to maintain employee trust as well as trust from the public.  With that being said, err on the side of caution when handing out the keys to your organizations social media kingdom.  The person you choose to run these social media outlets is representing your organization as a brand.  There is no room for error that could damage the brands reputation.

As social media changes the communication landscape, it is important that your organization get connected and harness its presence and power.  Reach out to your marketing and crisis communication teams to see how you can engage employees, clients and the public to better prepare for crisis situations.