Magazine article Communication World

Ready for Anything: Support and Enhance Your Crisis Communication Plan with Social Media

Magazine article Communication World

Ready for Anything: Support and Enhance Your Crisis Communication Plan with Social Media

Article excerpt

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Many communication professionals are faced with a minor or major crisis during their career. And let's face it: Whatever training we received, we're never fully prepared to deal with all the eventualities that develop during such an event, nor can we be prepared for all the variables that come into play. We plan for the worst and do our best with the resources we have at our disposal.

Enter social media--online communications with a potential impact such as we have never seen before. In the past 10 years, the Web has evolved from a one-way communication platform to an interactive, fast-paced, two-way social communication system available to anyone with an Internet connection and a connected device. This change affects all aspects of crisis communication, from speed to reach to impact. Rather than fear the speed at which news travels via social media, communication professionals can use different forms of social media to support and enhance their crisis communication planning and execution before, during and after a crisis.

Monitoring with RSS

Every communicator should be involved in the day-to-day monitoring of what is being said about the company's brands, executives, products and services. Using traditional dipping services is not enough. In a world of 24/7 online interaction, communication professionals should also understand the tools and especially the technologies that can be used to keep a finger continuously on the pulse of online activity.

Almost every system of online monitoring uses the content syndication power of RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. An RSS feed is a signal that can automatically display content aggregated from hundreds of different online sources such as news sites, blogs and constant searches on specific keywords. The latter makes a well-defined collection of RSS feeds a powerful monitoring solution.

Let's say you would like to be updated when several keywords are found in the same online story. Then you specify that you only want to receive an update if these parameters are a match from specific blogs or Twitter channels you monitor.

All this is possible through the use of RSS feeds. What's more, these alerts will follow you from your PC or Mac to your smartphone, or can be republished on your intranet or an online private dashboard.

Once you have your specific monitoring feeds in place, you will want to create a space for them. RSS feeds can be viewed and read in three different ways: through an online "feedreader," through a "feedreader application" you download to your PC or through e-mail.

One application worth mentioning here is Klipfolio. This small application is a free dashboard that you can download and install on your PC. It will organize your different feeds in containers called Klips. Once it is launched, it will auto-refresh your searches on a regular basis and will alert you when a hit is found online. You can then preview the content associated with your alert and click through to the original source.

Enterprise-grade monitoring tools

In the past three or four years, several "enterprise-grade" social media monitoring tools have reached the market. These are more complex and more powerful than a collection of homemade RSS monitoring feeds in that they follow scientific algorithms and come with more features than a simple dashboard does.

These platforms usually have features such as alerts, trending, analysis and a form of ranking to display influence. Although most have a global reach through the nature of what they do (monitoring the World Wide Web), a good many of them fall short in one important respect: language.

If you are interested in knowing what is being said about your U.S. company in Europe, then you need a system that "understands" the multitude of languages spoken on the social Web in this area. Not every system on the market understands Dutch or Finnish, which has an impact on sentiment tracking. …

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