Social media: an essential part of crisis communication training and planning

September 27, 2012 by Jonathan Hemus

I was talking to a senior businessperson from a global organization last week about their crisis management planning and crisis communication training.  I introduced the topic of social media and how they might gear up to deal with a social media crisis – or indeed use social media to communicate in a crisis.  His response?  “We’re not really into social media – it’s not relevant to us”.

Granted, this was an engineering company, but these days, you don’t choose to engage with social media, it chooses to engage with you.  So, even if you’re not a consumer brand, social media IS relevant to you.

In my view, B2B organisations and corporates should consider the following three levels of involvement in order to properly manage and protect their reputation:

Social media monitoring – even if you choose not to fully embrace social media, at the very least you do need to know what is being said about you online.  Social media monitoring is a very effective early warning system and allows you to address issues before they become crises

Establish social media channels for crisis communication – in a crisis you need to communicate your messages clearly and directly with key stakeholders.  What better way to do this than through your own social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.  Social media is much more than a broadcast channel, but in a crisis this can be one of its key functions

Engage fully with social media – businesses which use social media most effectively in a crisis tend to be those that embrace it every day of the year (not just when they’re under fire).  Though B2B organisations and corporates may not need to communicate directly with consumers, they will want to reach potential employees, local communities and the media, all of whom access social media on a daily basis.  Taking the social media plunge is likely to pay dividends during the good times, and may just save your skin when a crisis strikes.
For any readers wanting to find out more about how to survive a social media crisis, please take a look at our recently published white paper “Braving a social media crisis”.

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