Is Twitter the Right Crisis Tool for You?

Yes, it delivers instantaneous news… but is Twitter the right crisis tool for you?

We’ve put together a comprehensive instruction manual for companies and organizations planning to use Twitter as a crisis response tool. If your organization has already deployed Twitter for nonemergency use, you may want to consult with us about some best practices and guidelines before you use it in a crisis.

Clearly, Twitter has proven itself to be the fastest breaking-news medium of them all. During the 2011 East Coast earthquake, in many places tweets were being read before the tremors had even been felt! When U.S. Airways flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River in 2009, the first recorded tweet came just four minutes after the plane went down. Jim Hanrahan wrote: “I just watched a plane crash into the hudson riv [sic] in manhattan.”

Fast though it may be, Twitter may not be the best or the right crisis response medium for your organization. Here are some things to consider:

  • In the event of bad news, the first stop for most people with a need to know, particularly the news media and the directly affected public, will still be your website.
  • While people following or friending you on social media may be interested in your company or products, they may not be your most important stakeholders.
  • If your social media message stream is not already well established and credible as an official information source, you can’t expect it to suddenly become one when a crisis, emergency or other bad news hits. For example, if your Facebook page is primarily used for games, couponing, promotions or lighthearted fun, you must not expect it to immediately become a believable source for critical information.
  • It takes time and people to feed social media — time and people you may not have available under the extreme pressure of an exploding crisis.

We would be happy to review your Twitter and other social media policies, plans and procedures with an eye toward helping you make them crisis-ready. If you have any questions, we’re always here to help.