Continuity Crisis communication Emergency Management

Planning for social media crises

Social media crises can occur for many reasons due to postings about organizations amplifying out of control and threatening reputation damage and loss of customers.

Additionally, during other worst case scenarios, such as terrorism or major disasters, social media can greatly amplify the intensity and scale of responses to the incident and, if not managed effectively, a social media crisis could develop alongside the physical incident.

However, resilience is often designed into organizations for worst case scenarios by focusing on business continuity plans that scale down total business activity for the recovery of critical activities within maximum tolerable period of disruptions. This scaling down could impact on social media incident management unless such activities are included in the business continuity plans.

Whatever the potential cause of a social media crisis, social media teams need to be prepared to scale up their operations to handle the social media incident. Business continuity and resilience practitioners may therefore have to enhance their existing assessment and design approaches to take account of the amplification effect posed by social media.

I suggest that business continuity managers consider the following steps:

  • Make sure you understand social media terminology, activities and operations;
  • Align social media operations to your business continuity / resilience programme. This will require, firstly, that you have effectively running social media operations steering teams and for these to have business continuity / resilience representation.


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