There are only a few key points that I strongly recommend on this
blog. In fact, most folks at work know that I regularly use the maxim,
“It depends.” But I do believe there are some absolutes, some
recommendations that everyone should seriously consider. One of those
recommendations is to establish a presence on various social media
The thing is, I know it’s not that easy. There are executives to
remind, legal wants to review, IT to fight, content to create and, oh
yeah, your job to do, too.
One of my other favorite sayings is, “Don’t be a dontbe, be a doobie!”
(Illicit reference completely unintentional, and funny every time.) So
how can we be doobies when faced with a blazing need to push
information on social networks that we have no presence on? Like, say,
a crisis, or emergency, or disaster. First, we need to realize that
social media is going to collect and forward and be a source of
voluminous amounts of information. And we have a desperate need to
participate in that discussion. Where others see a potential problem
(Dontbe’s), I see a solution (I’m a doobie! See? Funny every time.).
Am I not being clear enough? How about we let Joe Tripodi of
Coca-Cola, writing in the Harvard Business
put it more bluntly in this great article I’ve already linked to once:
Accept that you don’t own your brands; your consumers do. Coca-Cola first learned this lesson in 1985 with the introduction of New Coke, but it’s become even more important with the growth of social media. As I write this, Coca-Cola’s Facebook page has more than 25 million likes (fans). Our fanpage wasn’t started by an employee at our headquarters in Atlanta. Instead, it was launched by two consumers in Los Angeles as an authentic expression of how they felt about Coca-Cola. A decade ago, a company like ours would have sent a “cease and desist” letter from our lawyer. Instead, we’ve partnered with them to create new content, and our Facebook page is growing by about 100,000 fans every week.
Yeah, sure, but they’re not the government, it’s just Coke! Right?
But what if a government did farm out their Facebook presence in an
emergency? Like, say ChristChurch, New Zealand after an earthquake?
The Southold Voice points us in that direction
Concerned citizens are currently joining one particular Facebook page at the rate of 400+ per hour, with numbers increasing exponentially as I write. Although there are at least two other community or business organized, credible Facebook pages for the Christchurch disaster, offering news, updates and related support services, there’s nothing to compete with this one particular page.
Too far afield? How about Joplin, Missouri? Fortunately, the City of
Joplin had a Facebook page already. But in the aftermath of the EF-5
tornado that devastated the town, one man set up a Facebook page that
just took off. More than 100,000 Likes in four days took off. The
official page today, months
later, still has less than 13,000. The Columbia Business Times has
the story here.
The City of Joplin, to their credit, weren’t too proud, they didn’t
try to push people to the official page. They accepted that the
audience, for whatever reason, was somewhere else and took their
Today’s lesson? Set up accounts and be active on social media
networks. Barring that, be ready (and willing) to utilize
community-developed social media accounts. If your public is getting
their information from somewhere unofficial, consider working with the
account-holder to disseminate official information.
Remember, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to get good information to
your publics in an emergency. Do it however you can, even if it means
going around official channels.