The beauty of social media is its ability to provide one message to many people at once.
This is particularly important during times of crisis when time is of the essence and you simply cant get the word out fast enough to the people craving the information.
And yet, I still see people communicating one-by-one instead of one-to-many.
How is this possible?
- You reply to a question by email where someone has responded to an email blast of information with a specific question;
- You reply on Twitter by using an @mention at the front of the Tweet which excludes the view to the individual you are tweeting and those who follow both you AND the person who asked the question;
- You reply on Facebook to people who post on your agencys wall or within a thread where others may not get notifications of new information.
All of these forms of communication are one-to-one communication which is intended to answer only the person who has initially asked the question.
And while it is wonderful to be able to answer people individually, you should know that if one person asks the question, there are likely at least 10 others who were afraid to ask. This means that you should consciously consider how to be talking, during crisis, to everyone possible.
Some easy ways to do this include:
- Keeping a Frequently Asked Questions page active on your website, blog or incident-specific website. Use questions asked on email and social media to populate this page and refer to it regularly in your email & social media posts.
- If you rely on email blasts to provide situational updates, be sure that the many questions you are asked, along with answers, are included in your timely updates;
- Reply to questions on Twitter by resharing the original question as an edited retweet or RT and placing the answer at the start of the tweet.
- Simply use a . at the start of your answer tweet on Twitter so that everyone who follows you sees your information.
- Consistent use of the incident hashtag(s) in all of your answers. This allows people, following the hashtag, to see the answers as well.
As Public Information Officers using social media, remind yourself regularly to evaluate whether you are really communicating in a one-to-many format or whether youre slipping into one-to-one communication. Its easy to reply to individuals, but youre wasting valuable time, particularly in crisis, if you make this the primary way you communicate.
When time is critical, use your resources in the most effective way possible so that your information can be shared, reshared and used to help others.