How to Build a Social Media Crisis Communications Plan

Do you have a social media crisis communications plan? More and more, people are looking to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other online or RSS sources for information during a crisis.

In any emergency, it is essential that you communicate quickly, honestly and confidently so your audience immediately understands the situation and knows how to respond.

Control the Flow

Social media allows you instant access to your employees, students, community, customers, the media and other stakeholders. The fact that communications are “real time” can be tricky.

It is essential that you control the flow of information at the onset, during and after an emergency situation. Someone needs to monitor all social media threads to make sure that comments and responses don’t cloud the issue or publish incorrect data.

Planning Prevents Panic

If your team is unclear about their roles, mayhem can ensue. Make sure you focus on specific tasks and timelines to prevent confusion and delay. Also, be clear about social media processes and objectives during a crisis – this is no time for flowery writing or complicated bureaucracy.

Your staff needs to be well-practiced using each medium you plan to use to communicate.

  • Plan for every conceivable situation
  • Keep your plan simple for fast execution
  • Define alert triggers
  • Write alert posts in advance
  • Slave posts from one source to another for faster distribution
  • Get legal and management approval
  • Assign timelines and personnel (with a backup for each member of your team)
  • Run drills to iron out the bugs

Don’t forget to update all of these outlets once the crisis has passed. People will be looking for as much information as they can get about how the emergency evolved, was handled, and any follow up actions.