Social Media & Crisis Communications: here’s what you need to know

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Social Media & Crisis Communications: here’s what you need to know

2018 social media and digital marketing tips for alberta business

Do you know how you’ll use social media during a crisis?

A crisis situation typically leaves little room for error. Planning ahead allows for the chance to work through intense issues with a clear mind and can relieve you of headaches that come during high-stress situations. Did you know that there’s a communications prep work that you can do ahead of time?

How is social media useful during a crisis?

  • Social Media offers an immediate, two-way method of communication. But you will still need a press release. Outlets continue to review releases and when appropriate, can help share critical information during a crisis situation.
  • Your press release will be the official information, available in one place. Social Media is terrific to communicate pieces of information but you will find that in a crisis, most people do not want to scroll to learn critical info.
  • However, in tandem with your press release, gear up on social media to share critical information as well.
  • Remember that there’s no such thing as over-communicating the right information during a crisis situation.
  • (FYI: At a recent marketing conference, a panel of well-known Canadian journalists shared that they dislike being pitched via social media.)

Plan Ahead: the situations may vary, but a few principles remain the same.

  • The type of information you can release – information your lawyers and senior counsel have given the greenlight on.
  • Key information. (Keep this to three messages or less.)
  • A list of anticipated questions, concerns, and scenarios that may cause further issue.
  • Who will be speaking on behalf of the organization both on & offline?
  • When will you be available? (extended business hours; limited business hours.)
  • Key contact information (special email address? phone number? location?)
  • It’s a good idea to get a few typical crisis scenarios together so you can identify appropriate measures.
  • Which (if any) social sites will you use to get the message out? Facebook? Google? (paid)
  • Have ‘plug n’ play’ advertisements ready for all social sites (each one has their own design parameters & rules)

Continuous Internal Communications:

  • Have your release approved internally. Send via newswire or through media contacts.
  • Circulate this information internally (including key stakeholders.) The more employees or members of your organization who share the information in their own social networks, the more you can control messaging.

Use of Social Media For External Communications:

  • Make sure you let the public know when you will be using the channels during the crisis situation. That means clarifying hours; are you there 24/7 or regular business hours?
  • Make sure the content you share is relative to the platform you’re using. (e.g.:
  • Launch awareness campaigns via social media channels (make sure you’ve nailed down the right audience for the message.)
It’s OK to be guarded during a crisis situation, but remember that a certain amount of transparency can serve you well. Depending on how you’ve laid out your social media triage team, ensure that every member of the team is clear on what they can and cannot say. It would also be advisable to have a senior leader available to vet queries coming in via social channels.
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.