5 Steps for Handling Social Media During a Natural Disaster
As a business owner, you hope to never find yourself prepping for a natural disaster. Whether it be a blizzard, ice storm, flood, or hurricane, it’s something you are never taught to do. There isn’t a college course called “Disaster Prep for Business Owners 101” or “Managing a Business During a Hurricane 3000”.
I, like many of my fellow Southern coastal business owner peers, found myself on a crash course with this this past week. We were lucky – from what I saw, most came away with little damage, but I know it could have been worse. Everyone had a great support system and stepped up and helped each other.
Before I get too far into this post, let me say, prepping your business physically and prepping your business online are two totally different things. I saw many businesses totally unprepared for this online. Even with a natural disaster approaching, you cannot forget about your social media/digital marketing campaigns. Yes, I fully realize that this may not be the most important element of your business at the moment, but trust me on this, social media may end up being your only form of communication with your fans, customers, and the outside world.
Hurricane Matthew is now a chapter in our “How to Handle Your Business 101” books and even though we know what to do NOW, here’s what YOU should do if you find yourself prepping for a natural disaster.
Before the event (blizzard, storm, hurricane) happens, post what your status is.
Will you be closing early or will you be open? Are you closing entirely? The public will want to know your status if you are a brick and mortar store.
Call in the back-ups.
Make sure you have a point-person to monitor your social media if you are not able to.
- Example: I’m in Georgia, 60-65 miles inland. We were supposed to be partially hit by the hurricane. My marketing assistant Jenn lives in Texas – she’s my back-up. She was aware of what was going on so she could take over in case I lost power or internet. On top of that, a dear friend and peer in California also offered her services as well.
Plan C’s are never a bad idea too. Even if you do not have an outside company handling your social media, make sure you have someone other than yourself who can post for you, just in case.
Look at what you do have scheduled and reschedule if needed.
I have two examples for this.
- What TO do: I am working on a sheriff re-election campaign. It would have been in poor taste for his page to be posting reelection posts when his county was one of the counties affected by the hurricane. We rescheduled all posts for a later time and only shared important information that related to what was going on now.
- What NOT to do: a store I follow from one of the islands affected was posting to their Instagram account cute outfits and to “Shop Now!”. Even if I wanted to “shop now!”, I couldn’t – there would have a Georgia State Patrol car blocking the interstate exit as I tried to get onto that island. Someone should have paid attention to what they were posting.
Once the event is over, mark yourself as “safe” on Facebook.
This is great feature on Facebook. This will let your friends know you are indeed safe.
When you are able, update your social media the status of your business.
Let them know if you have power, when you will be reopening, your hours, etc. Keep the public informed. You can do this or your back-up point person can. There may be chaos, but you can cut a lot of down but keeping people informed.
When a natural disaster is coming, there’s always stress. You just need to remember to take care of yourself and your family first. Your business wouldn’t be here without you. Hopefully these five steps will help alleviate some of that stress where your business is involved.
If you have faced something like a blizzard or hurricane, what else have you done to prep your business? Share below in the comments and let me know!