Business-appropriate social media posting in a natural disaster

Business-appropriate social media posting in a natural disaster

In the past few days, Jamaicans have gone through a whirlwind of emotions. First the anticipation of wondering whether Matthew would develop into a hurricane, to the fear and anticipation of being hit by the hurricane, to finally being miraculously spared. Throughout it all, there was a lot happening on social media. Here are some recommendations for businesses on using social media well during and after a disaster. 1. Use your networks to keep customers up to date, especially if you are an essential service. In any natural disaster, bear in mind that people will be speculating on your ability to provide continued service, so make sure to address these concerns first on your official networks. Posting periodically also helps to manage the conversation around your brand and gives you the opportunity to see what is being said.
The JPS did very well in this area and should truly be commended for their excellent use of social media to keep customers in the know. It is clear that a pre-disaster strategy was also in place, as customers were informed ahead of time of the possibility of an outage and why. The JPS then used their platforms to address another rumour being circulated with regards to a 6:00 pm cut-off time. Social media is direct and perfect for communicating with your customers. Don’t use it just to advertise. Harness its power to communicate important information to your customers. 2. Take advantage of new tools. Facebook Live is one of Facebook’s newer offerings and is a great tool for giving updates as a situation evolves. The staff from CVM took advantage of it and used it well. Cognisant of the atmosphere of uncertainty and lack of information, they began putting out videos clearly explaining where the hurricane was, what it meant for Jamaica, and even gave tips on what Jamaicans could do to improve their preparations. Patria Kay Aarons also used the medium to address misleading photos and clarify what stories being posted were in fact true, and which ones were old stories being regurgitated in order to get likes. This helped to manage public perceptions of the hurricane, as this news was coming from a reliable and recognisable source. 3. Educate, give service and show your human side. You should always be open to new ways to market your business. And the truth is, this can be accomplished even through an otherwise negative event – without being disingenuous. Many businesses on social media make the mistake of always selling. Every post either promotes their products or asks customers to buy them. After a disaster, such tactics would be distasteful and are discouraged. However, marketing or PR can still be accomplished, though not in a traditional “hard sell” manner. How so, you may ask? Well, you can use such events as an opportunity to educate, give service or show the human side of your business. Educate your clients Are you a car dealership or insurance company? Before the event, create a post with tips on how to protect your vehicle during the storm. Are you a bank? You could create a post reminding clients to put their valuables safely away, and encouraging them to have a little cash stored in a waterproof area for use after the storm. Show your human side Use social media to show you care and that your company has human values such as compassion and generosity. Send out posts of encouragement or prayer. After the occurrence, you could disseminate relevant information – even if it has nothing to do with your business or brand. For example, sharing a list of local shelters, or important contact numbers. This shows your customers that you care about them even if they aren’t purchasing. Do an act of service without expecting anything in return You never know… your simple heartfelt action could then give a customer a positive reason to choose you the next time they need your type of…

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