Social media permeates many aspects of our every day lives, with social networking sites being a major source for individuals and organisations to communicate with each other. But as well as being a device for sharing photos, gossip and news, social media can play a vital role in assisting organisations or communities in times of crisis. Read on to learn more.
The nature of social media
Before the advent of social media, communication of news and events occurred at a slower pace. But social media has changed that. These days, information can be relayed at an instant, so that when events or incidents occur, they can be communicated about at a much faster rate.
Whilst this can be a good thing, it means the flow of information can spread like a wildfire and in some instances it can be problematic if that information is detrimental to the reputation of an individual or an organisation.
Managing social media is a valuable skill for any individual, organisation or group, because people need to know what is being said about them or a specific situation, as well as be in the position to influence messages, keep reputations in check and diffuse alarm or worry.
Using social media in a crisis
Successful organisations usually have a crisis management policy in place, so that should something negative happen, they have the strategies to deal with them effectively. Often, part of that plan will be to make the most of social media in managing this crisis.
How can this be achieved? When a crisis does erupt, an organisation should be in a position to respond to it. This could either be through a Tweet or a posting on sites such as Facebook. If an organisation responds instantly, it can help to establish trust and integrity with its audience. This can allow people to ascertain the correct information and what is being done about the crisis. Often this is necessary, because there is a tendency for incorrect information to spread on social networking sites, so reiterating the genuine facts can help to diffuse invalid comments.
In emergency situations, such as that of the recent Boston marathon, social media was effective in raising awareness and maintaining a sense of calm. In some instances, it can be used to help piece together crime events leading to the arrest of criminals, or gather information when individuals go missing.
In the face of adversity; for example when hurricanes, earthquakes, floods or tsunamis strike, social media can be a valuable tool to raise funding in emergency situations and bring communities together, often on a global scale.
Social media can help to open up dialogue between individuals, so that thoughts and opinions can be aired. The key is to be as honest and transparent as possible, even if the information that is being given isn’t complete or fully resolved.
Because people using social media expect information instantly and regularly, those using it as a crisis management tool need to offer regular feedback and updates on the crisis situation.
These tips were provided by Insignia. Insignia are keen to provide good business advice in a number of different areas and are experts in crisis management training.