By Stephanie York, J.D., Hennes Communications
It’s worth stating over and over – social media is your organization’s most important tool to disseminate information to your stakeholders amidst a crisis.
People who care most about you go to your website. They follow your Twitter feed. Many likely interact with you on your Facebook page. Because Facebook does such a good job of fostering interaction, you are missing a major opportunity to influence the conversation if all you do is post to Facebook. Instead, we recommend actively engaging those online visitors.
Facebook offers government organizations, political figures and non-profits certain tools that foster credibility and engagement, which can then result in increased reputation. Here are a few simple tactics.
Get a Facebook Verification Badge. The verified badge, similar to the one offered by Twitter, means that Facebook has confirmed your page or profile is the legitimate manifestation of the organization, public figure or brand it purports to be. There are a number of requirements to apply for a verification badge that can lead to more hits, clicks and most important, more credibility. In a crisis, truth and credibility are the best offensive and defensive weapons you can deploy during a crisis.
Use Facebook to communicate information. Facebook has a set of Crisis Response Tools allowing your stakeholders to:
Use Facebook for Local Alerts. For breaking news situations, from an active shooter situation, chemical spill or 20 car pile-up to a large water main break, government agencies can use Local Alerts to alert stakeholders. When you trigger a Local Alert, your followers will see a special yellow indicator (⚠️) on that post in their news feed, indicating a situation that needs attention. You also have the option to limit the Local Alert notification to a specific neighborhood or area (determined by a radius around a pin-drop on a map). County agencies have additional tools to alert all their followers living in a particular county, or perhaps a subset of the cities within that county. Likewise, agencies serving an entire state can send the alert statewide or limit the alert to a segment within that state.
If that weren’t enough reasons to get your government agency involved with Facebook, consider all the Government, Politics, and Advocacy Specific Resources available on Facebook:
Despite friends and other naysayers complaining about Facebook Fatigue, news breaks first on social media and social media quickly becomes the first place for news when it hits the fan. The mantra in the crisis industry is “Use peacetime wisely.” Build your audience now, before something happens. Get active and take advantage of the services Facebook offers to government agencies now. Your stakeholders are watching, listening and clicking.
It’s without dispute that in the midst of a crisis you want stakeholders getting their information from you, not from non-verified sources that may or may not be reliable.