Continuity Insights’ first in-depth survey for 2012 looks at the growing use of social media as a crisis communication tool. Respondents from over 250 organizations were asked to provide data about their organization’s social media accounts and usage, which was then used to indicate the reach and target audience — key factors when using social media in a crisis.
Before the rise of social media, notification systems were one of the only ways to effectively disseminate information during a crisis. As such, the survey includes information about the use and functionality of respondent’s notification systems.
We then asked respondents to rate the perceived effectiveness of the three main social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — and their own notification system in getting information out to employees, customers and the public during a crisis. The data are compelling, clearly showing a lack of confidence in social media’s reach during a crisis.
While most people think about social media as a way to push out information, it is also a powerful “crowdsourcing” tool, capable of turning the public into sources of information. This idea goes against the traditional top-down approach to disaster response and crisis communications, but the results show many plan to use social media in exactly this way.
Lastly, respondents provided information about their documented crisis communication plans and whether they address the use of social media during a crisis.