Social media has completely changed the dynamics of disaster response and recovery, and businesses around the globe have experienced its impact firsthand. Before the Internet, when a disaster would strike, people would turn to their television sets or radio to better understand the situation. That was a time when information would travel slowly, but we are living in age of the Internet. Now everyone who is on social media is informed about events not only happening in their country, but events that are occurring on the other side of the planet.
The most important thing on the minds of people whenever a disaster strikes is the wellbeing of their family and friends. Social media has been a revelation in that regard as it has become the go-to resource during disasters. All social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer people with a convenient and fast way to check in with friends and learn about what’s happening in their vicinity.
Social media platforms are relied upon heavily by people from all over the world during disasters today. It is imperative that business owners understand the impact social media has on disaster response, and how a business can use social media after going through a disaster.
How People Are Using Social Media During Disasters
A survey conducted by the University of San Francisco revealed the immense power of social media during disasters. It clearly showed how heavily survivors relied on social media.
- 76% let friends know they are okay
- 37% purchased supplies and searched for shelter
- 18% used Facebook to access emergency information
Those numbers have increased dramatically over the years, and they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unearthing the value of social media. The great thing about social media is that it is so easily accessible and convenient to reach out to friends and family when there is a disaster. It can also be used to raise funds for recovery, and to raise awareness of a situation in an affected area.
How Businesses Are Using Social Media During Disasters
A lot of businesses and emergency response organizations have already adopted social media and are using it as a tool for helping manage disasters. Apart from using it to share information related to the disaster and its effects, they are also using social media for:
- Distributing emergency notices
- Listening to victims and learning about their needs
- Figuring out what’s happening in specific areas, based on hashtags and postings
- Estimating damages, based on pictures and other information being shared.
Even local, state, and national governments and disaster response agencies are opening social media accounts for effective disaster management and response.
3 Keys to Effectively Using Social Media for Your Business During a Disaster
There isn’t any shortage of ways you can use social media effectively for your business after going through a disaster. The most important thing to understand is that you must not panic and should present a strong and united front to ensure everything goes smoothly. It is important to plan a few things first, so that you can effectively deal with the disaster. To get the best results, here are some of the best ways to effectively use social media for your business during a disaster:
- Determine the Best Platforms
Carefully consider all the information you are required to convey to customers, and employees first. Now ensure that you have accounts on appropriate platforms for conveying that information. Most businesses have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram, which should be more than enough platforms, but if you have a presence on other platforms you should use them as well.
- Select a Social Media Manager
The hardest challenge you will be facing during a disaster is trying to ensure that all information being shared is accurate and is shared appropriately. Therefore, it would be wise to appoint or assign a social media manage for your organization which understands what type of information should be shared, in what manner, and on which social media platforms.
- Notify Employees About Specific Channels
You should also ensure that your employees have knowledge about which social media platforms you will be using to share information regarding the disaster. You should also provide your employees with lists of key local, state, or national social media accounts that may help them later.
Awareness Is Everything
When disaster strikes, the most important thing is reliable information, since it means greater safety and less stress. This is the reason why social media has proven to be invaluable whenever there is a disaster anywhere in the world. Therefore, it is a great idea for your business to create a proper plan on using social media after a business disaster.
The most important thing to learn here is that as more people embrace social media, your customer support and marketing functions should also be doing the same. Your customers expect your business to be honest, sincere, and responsive, so failing to do that could cost your business precious customers.
If You’re Directly Involved, Release a Legally Correct Statement
When your business has experienced a disaster or is directly involved in one, people will want to hear from the organization. They will want to be consoled and will ask for explanations. This means that whatever you choose to publish on your social media account will be scrutinized. A properly crafted and appropriate statement will allow people to see the humane side of the business and may even minimize expected backlash on the Internet.
Therefore, to ensure that you don’t release a controversial statement on social media, it is always best to consult with your lawyers, who are experienced in such matters. You can protect your brand from a lot of negative backlash by getting legal counsel. Natural disasters have been projected to get worse every year, as climate change continues to impact the planet. Therefore, it is imperative that your business recognizes the true value of social media and uses it effectively after a business disaster.