I’ve written in the past about the importance of understanding your social media demographics prior to a crisis striking (I even followed that post up with a great infographic to provide you with a base to start from). However, I still often get asked about the right places to post in a crisis, and which social channels to leverage.
The answer is that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer or strategy for doing this right. Yes, it’s true that you should absolutely be on Twitter, but should you also communicate on Facebook? What about Google Plus? Would LinkedIn serve you well as a crisis communications channel?
3 steps to communicating with all of your stakeholders in a crisis
The only way to know which social platforms need to be leveraged in a crisis, is by answering the following questions prior to a crisis starting:
1. Who are your different stakeholder groups, both internally and externally?
If you haven’t already identified your key stakeholder groups, now is the time to do so. Make a list and know who you absolutely need to communicate with, in which types of crisis situations.
2. What social channels do each of these stakeholder groups use the most, and for what purposes?
Not every group uses the same platforms for the same purposes; nor will every group want to receive important communications from your organization the same way. It’s extremely important to identify the social media platforms used by each stakeholder group, along with each group’s preferred and most useful means of communication. Make a list and include this information within your crisis communications plan.
3. Don’t forget about email, SMS and phones!
Odds are, social media may not even be the best means of communication for all of your stakeholder groups. Often, email is still the best way to communicate with key internal stakeholder groups. In this case, make sure that all appropriate email addresses are grouped together for ease of communication. Also, if you have employees and team members who are out in the field more often than they’re in front of a computer, setting up SMS protocols – or better yet, developing an internal communications mobile app – is probably the best way to be prepared. I even have clients who have stakeholder groups who are still using fax machines – yes, they still exist!
The important thing is to identify:
- Who you need to communicate with
- When they need to be communicated with (in what types of crisis situations; at what point within each crisis situation; etc.)
- How to best communicate with them, on their preferred platform
This is a really important part of your crisis preparedness and crisis planning. Have you taken the time to reflect, discuss and answer all of the above questions? If not, I recommend you planning time to do so real soon!
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.