5 Ways to Get Social During a Crisis

emily easley

Emily Easley
Account Director

Dec 1, 2015 | Crisis, Point of View

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SOCIAL MEDIA AND CRISES go together like peanut butter and jelly. These channels feed people’s need for immediate information and answers and are unique in that they’re perhaps the only place where all your audiences come together—customers, employees, organizations, the general public.

As you reach for your crisis plan to add a social media strategy, keep five things in mind:

Communicate early and often.

Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms are often the first stop during a crisis. The power goes out and people rush to Facebook to see why—it’s an automatic response today. As soon as a crisis hits, acknowledge it on social media and note more information will come soon.

Give updates, even if it’s just to say when more information is coming.

Sometimes you’re not going to have an update. You might be waiting for information to be confirmed with legal or engineers, but that doesn’t mean the public or media have stopped seeking information on your social accounts.

Assign someone to respond to comments 24/7 during a crisis.

And not just anyone: someone who understands your brand voice and delivers excellent customer service. Equip the person to answer a variety of questions and comments that might come up. While it’s easy to think the 20-year-old intern can handle the task, he or she is not the best choice.

Recordkeeping is a must.

Every state has some version of a public records law that dictates how government bodies must retain and share public records. While on a third-party site (like Facebook or Twitter), public power utilities should consider how they track comments, especially during a crisis. Consider developing and posting a disclaimer, notifying participants that their comments may be subject to public records and disclosure laws.

Don’t delete negative comments.

Instead, refer users to your “terms of use.” As a public power entity, you’re held to First Amendment considerations, meaning you cannot restrict speech within a public forum unless it’s intended to achieve a compelling government interest. Social media sites are open public forums and if a customer has a negative comment during a crisis, you cannot simply delete it. You can, however, remove defamatory comments or block users who consistently make inappropriate comments. Develop a clear terms of use policy that outlines the purpose of the page, ground rules for how visitors can post, and when content may be deleted.

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