BP was lambasted for its post oil spill communications. It wasn’t ready to use social media in its response and when it did engage it came under fire for among other things, too little, too late, not using social media properly.
Having a corporate presence in social media, even if it is not used actively, provides a company with multiple channels to distribute information and respond to inquiries when a crisis strikes.
Staying within the pharmaceutical space, if there would be a product recall, you can imagine the number of people who will go online to find information. In addition to updating your Web site, a blog post can trigger a Twitter tweet, and a Facebook wall post could announce where to get more information. You can then let consumers use RSS feeds, email updates, posts, and tweets to stay updated on the situation, while making it very easy for them to share the information with others they know who may need to know.
Andy Sernovitz recently wrote, “How to use a blog to handle a crisis.” In his post he cites the example of WindsorONE, which had a crisis impact two of their manufacturing plants that was unquestionably going to impact their ability to produce and deliver orders on time.
By utilizing social media to handle the company’s crisis communications, WindsorONE was able to keep people update to date and delivered communications in the way the customer wanted to receive it, according to Sernovitz.
For those companies that don’t want to be involved in social media, they should at the very least consider it from the standpoint of crisis communications, which is a lot like deterrence theory, you have it in place with the hope of never having to use it.