Business Continuity Tip of the Month

The social club

The world is changing. More specifically, as regards this tip, the way that people communicate is changing.

For instance, the recent phenomenon of social media is now becoming part of many people’s normal mix of communication methods. For the social media generation, even e-mail on their iPod is becoming old hat and these days they’re just as likely to communicate via MSN or Facebook or Bebo or Twitter or whatever the latest trend is.

So if the way we communicate is changing, are our crisis communications strategies and plans also changing to take account of this new world? Have we considered, for example, the potential for using social media in a business continuity or crisis management context? And, if so, how?

The jury’s still out on how useful or effective social networking sites, blogs, tweets, instant messaging, etc might be for things like awareness raising or education, or progress reporting/monitoring as part of the business continuity management programme, but a number of organisations are now using them for crisis communications.

Whilst social media might not be everyone’s cup of tea (or perhaps you’re more inclined towards a skinny latte nowadays), you might consider the following :

  • Setting up a closed user group on LinkedIn, or similar, for communicating with colleagues, customers, suppliers or other stakeholders.
  • Using Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc to communicate with your stakeholders, for instance by circulating articles, strategies, thoughts or questions.
  • Monitoring Twitter, etc for negative PR posted by those with an axe to grind and using them to put your side of the story across.

Clearly there are a number of considerations to get our heads around, not least of which are reliability issues and the security aspects of utilising what are, by definition, mostly public forums.

As with any other communications media, we need to identify our key audiences and the messages that we want to get across, then select the appropriate vehicles for doing so and think carefully about how we deploy them. This is likely to comprise a wide variety of media, from ‘phones to Facebook; e-mail to adverts; text messages to tweets –  and whatever else works for you. 

Like it or not, social networking, in one form or another, is well and truly with us and is probably here to stay (at least until the next new thing comes along). If we write it off because we personally don’t use it, or if we simply choose to ignore it, we do so at our peril.



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