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Social Media Is Really a Two-Way Street – Part Two

To really harness the value that social media offers in critical communications, one must first understand a key fundamental fact: social media is a two-way street. Social media is effective for disseminating emergency information to lots of people quickly. It also helps individuals collect and exchange information in real-time, which makes it valuable in a crisis.


What Are People Saying About You?


Wouldn’t you like to know the answer to that question, especially in a crisis? Wouldn’t you want to know if inaccurate information is being spread via the Internet so you could correct it? And wouldn’t you want to collect accurate information faster so you could take appropriate action sooner than if you had waited for the information to arrive through more traditional channels? Wouldn’t you want to automate that collection process and be alerted if something appeared?


Gathering situational intelligence has tremendous value in a crisis, especially if you prepare ahead of time to receive and act on it. To do that, you will have to develop your own social media plan and presence. That includes creating your organization’s own place on Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps other social media sites. You’ll have to start communicating that way with key publics on a regular basis so stakeholders will learn what to expect — whether in a crisis or otherwise. And you’ll need to adopt best practices for actually using social media in a crisis.


Here’s a checklist for how to get started with using social media during crisis communications:

  1. Have a plan for how you want to include social media
  2. Bring together a team of people who already use social media in their personal lives to help
  3. Select a few social media platforms to focus on initially
  4. Learn the rules and norms for each platform
  5. Establish connections with people, groups, and local and national organizations
  6. Monitor keywords and entities that are most meaningful
  7. Collect intelligence from the “field” with social media
  8. Build message maps for top scenarios specific to each social media channel before you need them
  9. Keep messages brief, pertinent, and timely
  10. Practice using social media before you need it

Crisis managers can’t be everywhere at once, and social media gives them eyes and ears in places where they might not otherwise see or hear. If you are not engaged in social media when an emergency happens, you may lack significant situational awareness. To get it, you can’t wait until the situation actually occurs. Instead, you should start crafting your social media crisis communications plan now.


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