Guidelines for Using Social Media Effectively in an Emergency

The timing of a company crisis is difficult to foresee. Although you can’t prevent every crisis from happening, you can prepare for the next one by following social media best practises.

As a former weather forecaster and severe weather enthusiast, I have a unique perspective on impending catastrophes. On the other hand, not every adversity is predictable.

It’s not uncommon to get hit from behind.

As a result, you should always be prepared for an emergency by having a strategy and a checklist ready to implement. You should not have to wing it when trying to figure out what to do.

What First-Responding Social Media Managers Should Do During an Emergency

Stop what you’re doing and take a breather so you can figure out what to do next. 

Know everything there is to know about the situation and consider every angle so you can make an informed decision. Ask yourself if this is a local, national, or international issue.

An Initiation Checklist for Social Media Crises

Your crisis plan should already include the following preliminary crisis checklist:

Verify all ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and consider pausing them if necessary. Instead of interrupting people while they’re trying to find something, you might put more effort into platforms like Pinterest, YouTube, and Google.
Verify and maybe delay any preplanned material.
You may also want to look at RSS feed aggregators and reciprocal sharing systems like Triberr and Viral Content Bee.
It’s important to make sure the pinned posts you’ve made on Twitter, Facebook, and any relevant Facebook Groups aren’t off-putting to the intended audience.
Make sure the content on your website is up-to-date and does not show any sign of complacency.
Listen to your voicemail and turn off your “out of office” notification.
Get your staff and upper management together to discuss the problem and whether any additional guidelines need to be put in place temporarily.

Emergency Measures

Below is a checklist compiled by Facebook advertising specialist Amanda Robinson that should be used prior to halting any initiatives.

If sales of your products and services are proceeding smoothly and there have been no disruptions in the supply chain, then you should keep running your advertising as usual.

Verify the ad’s continued applicability in light of current societal mores by giving it a thorough once-over. The campaigns should be left alone unless adjustments are necessary. When you make changes to your ad’s Targeting, Creative (such as photos, text, links, or videos), Optimization, or Billing Event, Facebook will reevaluate your ad and remove it from circulation temporarily while they make the necessary adjustments. It’s like commencing the learning part of a campaign from scratch once approval is given.

If you need to make modifications to your campaign, just create a copy of it. This will allow you to construct a new campaign with your modifications and compare its performance to the original campaign’s performance.

Prioritize engagement, video view, and traffic efforts so that your audience numbers remain stable as business and expenditure levels down. Website visitors can be retargeted for as long as 180 days (six months), and interaction + video watch audiences can be retargeted for up to 365 days. If you cut down on spending today, you’ll see reduced interaction in the short term and the quality of your audience may suffer in the long term, maybe within six months to a year.

Conversations at a Time of Crisis

The next step is to review the company’s vision and objectives. Can we proceed with business as usual? How can we make this better?

Do not send messages out of the blue

To do this, you must put yourself in the shoes of your consumers while responding to social media posts. You have to put yourself in their shoes and try to fathom their current state of mind, needs, and desires.

The best course of action is to face the problem head-on and then ask consumers, “How can we help you through this?”

Make sure you have a plan for using social media in the event of a disaster

Having empathy for the situation is essential.  Recognize that this is a trying moment for your patrons and supporters, and assure them of your continued support throughout. Give them facts that can help their organisation or business instantly.

It is important to keep the following in mind while selecting material during a crisis:

Recognize the value of remaining silent in some situations.
Think carefully about the value and relevance of the information you provide.
Give your consumers access to materials they can put to use right now.
You should get ready for a surge in inquiries and requests from customers.
Keep a careful eye on the situation and any breaking news to learn how recent events may affect your company and its clientele.
Try not to get involved in any arguments, especially if they get political or unpleasant.
When in doubt as to whether or not you should answer, ASK!
Remember to keep your humanity at the forefront. 

Maximize the depth of your engagement with your target audience

All humans have an innate need for social contact and approval. Keep your consumers and followers certain of your normality and optimism even if the world around them is falling apart.

The best way to find out how they are coping with the circumstance is to directly question them.

The question “What do you need most right now?” is another option. Their answers will help you determine what kinds of materials and information they would find most useful.

If the problem is broad and expected to linger for weeks or months, you should establish a private Facebook group or Slack channel. Members can work together to aid and assist one another by sharing relevant information and starting relevant conversations in the group.

To avoid “spamming” your main social channels’ followers who aren’t affected by the situation, creating a group is a good idea.