Crisis Communications and Social Media

My last post addressing social media in significantly regulated industries got me thinking about an earlier post on defending one’s self from a social media storm, and this made me realize I missed a major reason to be engaged in social media: responding to a ‘crisis’ situation.

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.


3 responses to “Crisis Communications and Social Media

  1. Pingback: More on Crisis Communication and Social Media | The Nunamaker Group

  2. Pingback: Crisis Communications and Network Analysis | The Nunamaker Group

  3. You raise a great point – even for companies that still fear being involved in social media, putting together a comprehensive crisis communications plan that involves the use of these channels is a smart strategy. The first step is knowing where your customers are online, and it’s often within that process that some companies start to realize the true scope of social media. There’s a big deal made out of jumping in to social media, but sometimes all that’s needed is a baby step in that direction to start things moving.

    Community Manager | Radian6