3 Steps to Using Social Media for Crisis Communications




Use social media to protect your brand and drive your message during routine and crisis communications. Read this article to find out how to use social media to measure the effectiveness of your communications, collect intelligence on what is being said about you or brand, constructing an effective communications campaign and how to best position, engage or dominate the conversation with your content.

By the end of this article, you will have the best defensive and offensive plan to utilize social media technologies during routine and crisis communications to protect and preserve your brand and reputation.

social media for crisis communications

1. How to measure effectiveness

Search engines measure and log just about everything that gets entered into their tools, so should you. Use the very tools that return search results or place you in the public eye to find out how effective your message has been and how wide it has been circulated.

Forget conventional press releases or the over reliance of agencies to do this, check and monitor yourself.

Use an analytics tool to identify where recent traffic has originated from and the volume associated. Separate the targeted traffic that has come in via a specific message and that of routine or random sources. Google analytics is the most common.

Place the title of your message or content in quotation marks and place it into a search engine. See where or if you appear on the first page. If you’re not on the first page, it doesn’t account for much. Also see how much completion you have for this message or title and monitor the results. Check all the alternates such as news, videos, blog, etc. to see where/if you rank there also. Constrain the results to the time period of your crisis or message, such as the past 24 hours and monitor the results.

Put the link to your page into a ranking tool that shows you what pages and titles your page or site is currently ranking for and monitor/evaluate the results.

Set up alerts or monitoring tools to advise you if/when similar, related or your content about the issue is published anywhere on the internet.

This approach is best used when you have a message or in order to review your most recent actions. It is highly recommend that you use the next step of collecting information and intelligence before you even get to this stage as it will always provide more effective and consistent results.

2. How to collect information and intelligence on your brand and your critics

Utilize some of the previously mentioned tactics but widen your search to include your brand, names of critics or associated terms.
Use a tool like Google Insights or Google Trends to track the popularity and origin of the bulk of the interest or traffic seeking information about your event, brand or reputation.

Calculate the page rank of your website, and that of critics, to determine who will have the highest ranking or widest voice when they publish updates or content. Do this by putting your website address into a page rank checker tool.

Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the top 10 sites associated with your message or event. Determine the age of the domain, backlinks, page rank, percentage of content related to topic and audience it reaches. This will help you to assess if you will ever reach the first page or help identify threats and allies.

Take the website URL from a site, page or source that you have identified as being concerning or threatening and put it into a search engine in quotation marks. The result will help you determine how many other sites have used or referenced this content by the number the search engine returns between your search content and results.

Assess and measure how many fans, subscribers or followers a site or release channel has to help calculate the audience and breadth of release.

Build your own communities, fans, networks and channels for routine and crisis communications long before you ever need them. You cannot dominate the Internet or search engines overnight. You need a wide base, consistent message, quality content and establish platform that helps with routine communications but can also aide during crisis or emergency to ensure you get your side of the story public or at the very least provide a balanced view.

Use multiple social media channels and keep the profile and message consistent. Only create secondary or linking networks after you have done this step.

Don’t ever use holding statements or generic, advance content in the assumption it will provide any benefit during a crisis.

3. Constructing a campaign to engage, position or dominate the conversation

Once you have isolated the key terms, keywords or topics using the previously identified methods, build one or more campaigns around this subject. Forget what terms you think are important (unless you have confirmed you have the lead on this and can influence the development of the message) and build your campaign around this phrase/s.

First create a written message. Keep it around 400-700 words. Ensure it has the key phrase in the message approximately 2-5% of the overall content. Put the keyword in the title. Then use this first message as a press release, blog update, article and audio script.

Create an audio version of the message, again with the same metrics. Prepare this release for podcast style release and convergence with images for a short video.

Create a video, using screen capture, video editing, camera or even smart phone. Ensure the video and audio have written scripts. If you created them without scripts, have them transcribed. Release the video and script as a joint release.

Publish all your content using burst and timed release tools. Ensure you are communicating on this issue more than your loudest or most prolific critic. Use all channels within social media spectrums such as YouTube, Twitter, Posterous, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.

Promote across channels, such as tweeting a video, commenting on a blog, bookmarking a press release.

Now drive traffic to these releases, engage, monitor, update and contribute.

Rinse, repeat and do it again.

Rinse, repeat and do it again. Yes, keep doing it for as long as it takes to be seen, heard or appear on the first page.

You won’t have time to learn and establish this kind of system overnight so you need to have it scoped, developed and established in advance. If not, have a system for creating and distributing your content in the shortest possible time. Under 1-3 hours in most cases.

Social Media.Search Engine Marketing Melbourne.Strategy.Image


Now you know how to protect your brand and drive your message during routine and crisis communications using social media. In this article we covered how to use social media to measure the effectiveness of your communications, collect intelligence on what is being said about you and your brand, constructing and effective communications campaign and how to best position, engage or dominate the conversation with your content.

Immediately review your current strategies and understanding of using social media to communicate for routine and crisis communications and compare it against this seasoned and proven approach. Make changes now to ensure you are both ready and capable for the daily and extra ordinary demands of online communications using social media.


About Tony Ridley
Travel health, safety, security and risk management expert.

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