Is social media part of your crisis management plan?

Abstract color001It’s fair to say that in 2015, social media has become inseparable from modern life.

Facebook boasts more than a billion users. Twitter regularly scoops traditional media sources for breaking news. Instagram was so useful during Hurricane Sandy that Time Magazine hired five of the photo-sharing site’s users to track the storm.

Yet BC/DR professionals have been slow to adopt social as a crisis management tool. In the early part of this decade, bold predictions were made about how many organizations would leverage the social Web in times of disaster. To put it bluntly, those predictions haven’t panned out.

According to recent data from the Continuity Institute and KPMG, only about 33% of organizations are using social for crisis or emergency management. 14% are taking advantage of social to help ensure business continuity, and another 9% say it’s part of their IT recovery plans. 49%—nearly half of those surveyed—simply aren’t using social media at all.

Why is that? The benefits are wide-reaching:

  • Social media can be used to identify emerging risks or developing issues before they become full-blown crises.
  • Like no other technology before it, social media enables mass, one-to-one communications with users, customers, stakeholders and the public—and all for free.
  • Similarly—and also like no other tool before it—social media sites offer a level of situational awareness that was unimaginable even ten years ago. When you can track the foot-by-foot progress of a California forest fire from half a country away, there’s no arguing that the game hasn’t changed.

Social media has its risks, yes, but with those risks comes a commensurate value. Fortunately, assessing risks and moving forward in the face of them likely comes more naturally to you than to anyone else in your organization.

It’s no longer silly to imagine shares tumbling because of a malicious rumor started by a bored college student—it’s become a common occurrence. A single tweet can very quickly turn into a conversation… which itself can get out of control at lightning speed.

The wise BC/DR professional (you are one of the wise ones, aren’t you?) would do well to start planning now to embrace social media for crisis management and disaster recovery as soon as possible. Abdicating sole ownership to marketing or corporate communications is a recipe for—if you’ll forgive the pun—disaster.