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Hurricane Harvey and social media: 6 takeaways for businesses preparing for Irma

By Julie Miller

Have a plan for a natural disaster.

A storm with the magnitude and destruction of Hurricane Harvey has not hit the United States since social media has infiltrated our lives. From Twitter to Facebook, people turned to social media to help family members reunite, to ask for donations and even to plea for rescue from the floods.

In addition to the individuals who were using social platforms, government entities and media outlets took to social media to broadcast critical updates. Companies also used social media to communicate key updates.

While nothing can fully prepare a company for a disaster the magnitude of Harvey, it’s a good idea to think about a crisis plan for your company. For Florida companies in the path of Hurricane Irma, here are some social media tips to have on-hand as your company prepares in the days ahead.  

  1. Pull scheduled messages.

Sure, scheduling tweets and Facebook posts helps your social media team manage time. However, during a crisis, you should pull everything that’s scheduled and think carefully about what you want to post. Pre-scheduled content could come across as inappropriate or insensitive. Be sure to alert the appropriate people when you pull scheduled messages or posts.

  1. Have a plan for staffing your social media.

Disasters don’t follow 9-to-5 schedules. Create a plan for how your social media team will handle after-hours posting and responding.

  1. Understand your audience.

Does the disaster you're dealing with impact a significant portion of your online audience? If the answer is no, be mindful to continue to give the audience what they seek. If your audience is primarily local to the disaster, your social media should solely focus on it.

  1. Have an internal communications plan.

If your employees are in the area of a disaster, have a plan for how you’ll communicate with them. Your employees are your most important customers. They should know when and where to find internal company updates.

  1. Be in the know.

If you’re a social media manager, you should be aware of the current health advisories and breaking news during a disaster. This can help keep you safe and help you communicate key health and safety updates to your audience, if relevant. Have a process for scanning hashtags or media feeds for important updates.  

  1. Help your community.

Stories are pouring in about local companies who are helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Think about ways your company can genuinely help communities in time of need, and let your audience know about it via social media. Perhaps give them an opportunity to support your efforts. Key takeaway: Remember, communicating your support is great, however, bragging and boasting about the assistance you provide is not.

Companies across America have stepped up to help those in Southeast Texas rebuild. If you’re interested in donating, visit the Red Cross website to make a donation today.

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JulieMiller.pngJulie Miller is a marketing and communications professional with more than seven years of experience in the industry. She specializes in technology, digital marketing and communications. Julie has worked for Axia Public Relations since November 2015. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.




Featured image credit: 123rf.com

Topics: public relations, crisis communications

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