In the last couple of days, I've read many posts describing how hurricane #sandy was the perfect social media storm:
[...] the simultaneous rise and ubiquity of Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, along with the endless churn of the 24-hour news cycle — combined to create another hybrid vortex in which the virtual community experienced the storm both in seclusion and all together. We all watched through our screens first, interacting all the while, and out the window second.
New York’s Personal Localized Alerting Network had an alert plan put in place to reach NY citizens:
These PLAN alerts go out to everyone in a targeted geographic area with enabled mobile devices, enabling emergency management officials at the state and local level to get an alert to the right people at the right time.
One thing few have mentioned is the gap between government/state/city intervention in keeping people safe, the support of humanitarian organizations like The American Red Cross (client), and the individual continuity plans of businesses.
Business continuity relies on communication
In the last 48 hours, a few posts on this blog received a lot of search traffic. Applying risk communication principles to social media crisis topped the list.
Core to that post was the concept of borrowing a page from crisis communications manuals and adapting it to what we've seen happen in social media so far, publics likely are, in this order:
- Concerned citizens -- have shown a desire to get involved in the issue you are facing
- Employees and partners -- how is the issue affecting them in the community?
- Activists -- they have an agenda related to the issue
- Pundits -- people who are seen as influential by the online community
- Experts -- with specialized knowledge of this specific issue
- Industry -- are other organizations getting lumped into the issue?
- Elected officials -- we're seeing more examples of politics mixed in with business
- Regulators -- think about health care, pharma, chemical, financial services
- Mainstream media -- and the rest of the public not online/in social networks
What you need to figure out is: who are the key groups who have a stake in the particular issue you are facing?
The truth is that even when you apply the recommendations to the letter, even when you're prepared to address stakeholders, assess the damage, keep people safe, and all of the facets of managing a crisis successfully, you may still be left dealing with an even bigger loss -- that of productivity over the long haul.
People can work virtually, check. Most businesses have switched to laptops for all employees so there is portability, check. Information is in the cloud, check. Data recovery plans are in place and have been tested, check. Yet, your people have no power for days, and/or they have no wireless reception.
Now, when most of your business capital is tied into how people use the information to transact, that is a problem. It is an even bigger problem when cost efficiencies have driven redundancies in workloads, systems, and technologies out of the picture.
Do we have a new definition of miracle workers yet?
Social media kept people connected
Social media kept people connected and informed because of its distributed nature. People want to know what is going on, they want to talk about what is happening to them, and now they know where to go to have at least someone listen to or see them.
Yes, it was pretty weird to see people tweet about generating leads through social and optimizing your SEO program while others were looking for higher ground and a warm meal. And yes, it means revisiting how we communicate about new products as well.
What would happen if instead of spamming (lame) or newsjacking the new cool product or service were tested to help and contribute?
If your team cannot come up with anything to use the product for, either simplify, pare down, or put out a brief on Twitter. Let the community tell you how it could be used. Or trade the product use for something the community needs with an organization that can supply it.
Time to get creative.
[image courtesy wikipedia]
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.