“When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe… It’s moments like this that being able to connect matters.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook.
The above quote shows that we live in a world of increasing interconnectedness between people and companies across the globe. Social media continues to evolve and play a more significant role in our daily lives.
Social media has evolved from being a place to look at photos of what your friend had for lunch or his new puppy. To a place where most people get their daily news.
Today one of the first things most people do every morning is to check Facebook or Twitter on their smartphones to see what’s trending.
When disaster strikes, most people turn to social media networks to get news. They get necessary updates from persons who are at the centre of the event.
The use of social media in emergency situations has made many disaster relief organisations focus on boosting their social media activities to alert the public of efforts they’re preparing to give relief.
Moreover, even after disaster strikes, social media is still used to help others find their loved ones. Facebook, for instance, has introduced a feature that allows you to mark yourself ‘safe’ during an emergency. This feature will notify your loved ones that you are safe and reduce their anxiety.
Before, during and after disaster strikes, businesses across the globe use their company’s social media pages to tell their shareholders, customers, and different stakeholders of their standing.
Some brands also use their web presence to update the public on their plans to rebuild, move or reopen for business.
However, with the rapid rate at which tweets and posts come in, your business should use social media with caution so as not to spread wrong information.
Your business can use social media to its advantage by tracking specific hashtags and keywords.
Where cell services are not available, your business can still make social media a part of its communication with the public.
Through social media monitoring, relevant organisations can gather information from followers in the form of real-time pictures and videos. Information about relief activities in progress, whether it be after a fire, flood, hurricane, and so on.
Despite the many benefits of using social media during a disaster, we must also realise that there are risks as well.
Since anyone can report anything at any time on social media, this means that a lot of the information is not ‘verified’ from official sources.
So you need to exercise caution before you repost or retweet any information from unverified sources.
Be selective about the sources from which you receive your information as scammers can use social media to ask funds from you. In the process; they will attempt to steal your bank details.
Make sure you research and verify the legitimacy of any organisation before you give money to any organisation.
A wise business owner needs to integrate social media with their traditional communications channels. The two platforms are mutually supportive in communicating with the public.
Have you been in a situation where you had to rely on social media? Share your experience in the comment below.