Laura’s Top 5 Social Media Tips

HTK Horizon’s Laura Meadows offers us her Top 5 Social Media for Business Continuity

What jumps into your head when you hear the term social media?

For me it is Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but really the list is endless.  According to Wikipedia – social media is defined as the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.

Here are a couple of social media facts for you:

  • There are 100 million monthly active Twitter users worldwide
  • The average tweets per day is 230 million worldwide
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest

So what does this mean for your business? Well the obvious one is to use these platforms to promote and engage your products or services to the market place. Today we receive voucher codes, promotions and special offers on a much more regular basis; Groupon now has 5.5 million subscribers in the UK and Ireland. Companies now have twitter accounts you can follow, Facebook pages you can like and share with your friends and regular content feeds being pushed through blogs.  But what do business continuity planners particularly need to consider?

What happens when something goes wrong? How do you plan to respond to a negative tweet or Facebook post that crops up unexpected and is available for all to see? Think for a second what you would do if a disgruntled customer in your shop started discrediting your brand  at the top of their voice now imagine there are 750 million users in your shop at the same time – would you ignore it? No? So why wouldn’t you have a response planned for what is being said about you on social media?

This brings us onto business continuity – you’ve set up your marketing site and you have thousands of followers and something goes wrong, a well-structured social media plan would allow your business continuity team to work with you to get updates out there proactively. As with anything, honesty is the best policy.  Customers are much more receptive to a company who is open, upfront and informative – and for those who aren’t, the backlash can be really detrimental.   The Queensland Police Facebook Page however is a great example of how to get it right. In their first 6 months they had gained 8000 likes, when the floods  hit they increased to 160,000 within a couple of days.

So what else should we be thinking about?

Your employees.  When it comes to maintaining reputation, businesses need to not only have their customers and external influencers in mind, but also their staff.  Whether it’s an employee posting “I hate my company” or “we have been evacuated, I bet it’s a bomb” to their social channels, the potential impact of this can be huge and as a result, businesses need to ensure that they have preventative measures in place.

When it comes to social media – in addition to managing your own content, it is also important to keep an eye on what others are saying about you.  This can be as simple as typing your company name into twitter and reviewing the feedback. Try visiting twitter and entering #qantasluxury to look at some feedback they were given after launching a competition recently.  It is important to have good guidelines here; too many companies rely on juniors for this task, so make sure you’ve equipped them to understand what they are looking for and to understand when something requires urgent attention.

Resilience is a word we hear a lot in our industry but what does it mean in relation to social media? We have to remember that all of these sites run on infrastructures outside of our control. I went to Twitter last week and found the site was down due to “too many users” so it is important to ensure this is used to compliment your Emergency Communication Plans and you are not subjecting yourself to a single point of failure. It is also worth remembering nothing is private on these sites, so it’s best to have a secure way of communicating with your business continuity team.

Finally think of the opportunity social media presents, as I see it there is a bit of a cycle which can benefit your future:

1) A disaster strikes; 
2) You gain more followers who want updates; 
3) You keep them updated; 
4) They continue to follow you and then once the issue has been resolved and you are back to business as usual you can trickle through some other information and content to them increasing your brand awareness and sales opportunities

Here are my top 5 tips for business continuity in social media

1)     Involve Business Continuity Managers in Social Media Planning – they will understand the risks you will need to prepare for and how best to approach them.

2)     Make sure you have a well written social media policy – arrange for all staff to sign up to it and be open to answer their questions around what is acceptable and be proactive with raising awareness.

3)     Monitor the sentiment behind your hash tags – don’t find out about negativity when it is too late and acknowledge all the messages you receive, even if they are negative. Once acknowledged publically you can always take the specifics offline with the user.

4)     Consider your resilience and remember social media sites are out of your technical control - have a reliable tool to communicate with staff and ensure you do not have a single point of failure. Remember there are some communications you will want to discuss with staff and management that are not suitable to be posted on a public facing domain.

5)     Embrace social media and enjoy the rewards it can bring but understand your objectives and risks and plan well for all eventualities.


You can follow author Laura Meadows on Twitter at @Laura_HTK.

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