Social Media Opportunities Beckon Entrepreneurs as Two-Third ofOrganizations Will Use It By 2015
A recent report by Gartner Inc. says 75 percent of organizations with BCM (Business Continuity Management) programs will have public social media services in their crisis communications strategies by 2015.
"Enterprises simply cannot afford to ignore social media as a crisis communications tool," said Andrew Walls, Research Vice President at Gartner. "In many cases, social media may represent the only available means of locating and contacting personnel; providing stakeholders with the information and assistance they need; informing citizens, customers and partners of product/service availability; and taking other business-critical actions following a disruptive event."
However, Andrew said that effective use of a new communications channel requires forward planning and practice. Attempting to leverage social media for the first time during a crisis can cause more harm than good. Instead, he said that organizations must develop comprehensive social media strategies and tactics for crisis/incident management and integrate social media with the enterprise's established BCM processes.
The use of social media for user input and knowledge sharing can create a conflict for organizations when the sites are being used during a crisis by the workforce and others that are involved or watching the event unfold.
Speaking about challenges that new communication channels like social media can present, Roberta Witty, Research VP at Gartner said, "As the workforce develops personal, digital friendships that might take precedence over the official spokesperson of the organization, a conflict over who is the authority during an event can emerge, leading to unanticipated and negative results if official procedures are not followed.” Therefore, putting forth a social media management strategy as part of a BCM program is essential to ensure that the organization's crisis communications effectiveness is protected, and that response and recovery plans and procedures are followed.
Roberta believes that organizations developing social media strategies and tactics for crisis management must factor in that social media is very different, technically and culturally, from the tightly controlled technologies and means of communication that enterprises are accustomed to using and supporting (such as corporate email systems). She further said that it is necessary to establish effective authorization processes, content guidelines and monitoring and message retention capabilities.
She summed it up perfectly by saying that the bottom line is that no enterprise's BCM efforts can afford to ignore the opportunities and risks presented by social media.