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Business Continuity Software - - Should social media be included within a BCMS?

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Should social media be included within a BCMS?

The global introduction of social media – with over 2 billion Facebook and several hundred million Twitter users - has been a monumental one, that has had a huge impact on many areas of our lives, both personally and professionally. From a business perspective, social media is utilised by over 90% of all companies globally. So, what does any of this have to do with an organisations Business Continuity Management (BCM)? Within Business Continuity, social media is fast becoming a hot topic which has been, and continues to be, widely debated – with the use of social media during an incident having clear pros and cons. As an important part of Business Continuity Planning (BCP) should involve being able to identify potential crises and determine how you would minimise their impact, crisis communications should be considered within part of this plan. There are several real-life cases which show the best and worse incidents involving this type of communication when dealing with a disruption, and how a complete Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) should incorporate this channel. Let’s take a deeper dive into this subject.

Social media during a crisis – the pros

As we can see above, the power of social media is undeniable – so it would be easy to see that this could be of huge support within a crisis communications plan, allowing a company to reach their audiences quickly, effectively and at a low cost, without having to possess contact details for these individuals. Perhaps even more powerfully however, is the support that social media can provide in actually being able to predict an incident – this is often the first channel which a business can pick up customer feedback on issues such as product safety concerns or customer service issues which might go on to cause disruption. A media coordinator responsible for external crisis communications should be identified within a BCP, whose role would involve the monitoring and analysing of social media activity.

Another important aspect to factor in when considering social media’s role as part of a BC plan is a firm’s reputation. This platform allows for close engagement with customers, suppliers and third parties, and therefore scrutiny via these channels is a key concern during an incident – all eyes will be on how the brand manages their social media activity at this time. A clear social media strategy as part of a crisis PR/communications plan is pivotal – this is one which should be widely publicised across the entire organisation.

Social media during a crisis – the cons

The main issue with social media for business use, and within business continuity planning, is its lack of control. Despite an organisation’s best efforts, public reaction and subsequent internet activity is extremely hard to manage, particularly at crisis point when the firm is already dealing with a disruption affecting a number of other areas of the business.

This lack of control can cause another issue – the spreading of false information. If members of the public report incorrect information and news following an incident within a business, or indeed if a crisis communication plan is not set up or adhered to during an incident and members within the company speak out with inaccurate updates, panic can be caused and rapidly widespread.

Additionally, speed is of the upmost essence to a business, and in this digital age, nothing but 24/7 responses are expected when dealing with customers, suppliers or third parties on social media. In the case of a large enterprise dealing with a crisis that has been made public, thousands of social media posts and updates could be experienced in just minutes. In spite of a company being expected to react quickly, they must also be mindful of the validity, accuracy and sensitivity in their activity online, as this is a point in which they will be subject to extreme scrutiny.

Some examples...

The good

In May 2017 the city of Manchester, UK experienced a terrorist attack within a large entertainment arena. The social media reaction from their city council body was widely applauded. The communications experienced were found to be timely, professional and well received, resulting in a 30k increase in social media followers and an 800% increase in engagement. In a report they released following the incident, Manchester City Council stated ‘A Cross-agency communications and consequence management hub to ensure timely and consistent information was (and continues to be) shared to warn, inform and advise the public and that collectively monitoring of community tensions and any incidents of hate crime were in place and informing actions."

The bad

In 2017, Pepsi released an advertisement featuring globally renowned reality star and model Kendall Jenner, in which she was seen departing from a photo shoot to join a protest, where she proceeded to provide a police officer with a can of the soft drink. This was seen by activists as making light of the ‘Black Lives matter’ movement, whose community claimed the stars wealthy background and race only added to insult their cause further.

The ugly!

As we have previously reported in our blog ‘Why is Continuity Planning Important’ we highlighted the disastrous efforts in managing the BP Oil Spill tragedy. Just one of the ways in which the company failed to handle this situation effectively was down to its communications. An imposter account became wildly popular during the crisis and quickly became an internet sensation, gaining over 175k Twitter followers to the company's official accounts 15k, and utilising its popularity to further damage its floundering reputation during such a precarious time for the brand. What’s more, BP did little to improve the situation with its lacklustre communications utilising its own social media platforms, whereby the company awaited the crisis to become globally known before acknowledging the problem in the first instance, by which time the online conversations were already causing irreparable damage for the firm.

We are of the opinion that given the above, social media is an integral and increasingly important part of crisis communication plans within a BCMS. The power of social media can be colossal and can reach terrifying heights of impact almost immediately.

Our business continuity software allows you to create comprehensive BC plans, which are fully automated from the creation and distribution of the plans right through to the scheduling and carrying out of exercises. Your PR/communications team can feed their crisis communications plan automatically, which will then be built into the BIA and BC plans held within the system, and distributed out to all of those involved. This is just one of the reasons our software is world leading within its field. Find out more about how your business can benefit from utilising our system by requesting a demonstration here today!

Posted on March 08, 2019

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