Social networks, “the new pink” in crisis communication
Are you having a hard time keeping up the newly emerged technologies when you need to manage instant Web updates? Or when you have to efficiently distribute tones of e-mails to clients or stakeholders and communicate through text messages to critical audiences? With the constant evolution of social media it has become obvious that this is a new must have for every company, as social media tools facilitate the dissemination of information in multiple modes, in real time.
Crisis communicators and PR professionals are starting to incorporate social media into their plans. When you plan for things that might go wrong, you also need a plan for the role that social media will play and how its involvement will impact your reputation.
Here are a few guidelines you should follow if you decide to start using social media in crisis situations:
1. Act quickly. Online information spreads instantly, therefore it is highly important for a company or organization to act quickly and manage the crisis. Do not let matters get out of control on Twitter, Facebook, Digg and everywhere else without an immediate response from your company to address the issue.
2. Have a team of social media specialists. Another important aspect is to have a crisis team that knows exactly how to jump into social media and strategize accordingly. These individuals should be able to take social media and use it to address an issue or problem effectively, in a proactive manner.
3. Keep a constant communication flow. In social media environments, the message is constantly changing. It is important to have a steady flow of information coming from your company. Social media is a great way to get your message through to large audiences, but communication must be consistent in order to be effective.
4. Be transparent. Transparency is very useful in gaining trust in social media. It allows an audience to connect with an organization In crisis communication most companies impose drastic barriers, and try to communicate as little as possible. But transparency and an honest message carry many more benefits for an organization, especially in times of crisis. It shows that the company is willing to be upfront with the audience, in an effort to reduce speculations and false information.
A very important aspect that organization leaders need to take into consideration is that social media should be seen as a place for conversation and dialog rather than a channel for directing messages.