Social media is used by more than 80 percent of the world's population, Gartner says, and enterprises can't afford to ignore it as a crisis communications tool. But effective use of a new communications channel requires planning and practice, and attempting to leverage social media for the first time during a crisis can cause more harm than good, the firm says.
Among the key recommended steps are to determine which social platforms are already used by employees, customers and other stakeholders and use those platforms in crisis/incident management efforts; and use social media not only to communicate during a disaster, but to gather information and gain the support of outside resources that can help ensure ongoing business resilience. Business continuity management professionals should immediately begin assessing social media's opportunities -- and risks, the Gartner reports says.
"Social networks are both a blessing and a curse" for business continuity, Dines says. "They have the benefit of being an additional communication channel to get in touch with employees during a [business disruption]. However, they can be a headache for crisis communications and PR as they try to control potential damages to reputation and the propagation of rumors."