How to utilize social media during a storm crisis

This past weekend, western Massachusetts (tCSA home base), as well we other parts of New England got hit hard by a nor’eastern… in October! As crazy as that sounds, it happened. The aftermath of the storm brought power outages, roadblocks and many civilians without a warm place to sleep. In the time of power outages, social media was the number one news source basically because of mobile devices.

There were several businesses that were lucky and didn’t lose power and opened up to serve the suffered communities as well as staying past normal operating hours. Some businesses were even opened by installing generators. One thing that many local businesses didn’t fully utilize during the power outage weekend was social media. Whether they had any networks they actively used or not, many were unable to release information to the masses.

So what does this teach you? Create a Post Storm Social Media Plan (PSSMP). What is that? a PSSMP is a specific type of social media crisis protocol a business will undergo when the crisis arises. One myth that a lot of businesses tend to believe is that they don’t need a plan. Not true. In fact, you need multiple plans in place. The PSSMP is just one of them. Another is a Brand Reputation Crisis Protocol, giving your business a specific course of action on what to do regarding your business brand and its’ reputation. But this article is focusing on post storms.

Every business should have something in place, especially if you are heavily active on social media. Here are some things that you should consider in including in your Post Storm Social Media Plan:

  • Status of your business: Give your fans and followers an update to how your business was effected. If it was, give them an estimated time of when things will be back to normal. If it wasn’t effected, still let them know. Let them know that you are there for them and ready to provide your services if need be.
  • Status of your local neighborhood: Let your customers know what is going on in your neighborhood. If they have to commute to your place of business or someone from your business has to commute to them, let them know of road conditions, roadblocks, etc to keep them informed.
  • Status of your local community: Let your customers know what is going on in your community. Let them know of any available shelters, gas stations, or open markets for them to pick up some essential needs.
  • Status of other local businesses: Let customers know which local businesses near you are open or closed. You need to keep them informed but giving them a reason to visit your business as well.
There are many reasons why you should have a plan in place. Here are just a few:
  • Engage: Engagement is what social media is for. It connects its’ users to their favorite brands and businesses. During a crisis, you need to be heavily engaged and engaging to your followers. Keep interaction high. On most social networks, you can now see what businesses and brand pages their friends are engaging with. Utilize that to market your business.
  • Market: Marketing your business is a must. With the boom of web marketing and social media, it has become a 24/7 job. Another reason to have a PSSMP is the opportunity to obtain new business. If you are a restaurant, convenience store, grocery market or a place that sells essentials, new customers are very important. You want first timers to come in, be impressed and come back again post devastation. If you are actively using social media during a time of devastation, consumers will know of your business and will be tempted to give it a try.
  • Depend: You want to let your customers and potential customers know that they can rely on you during a time of devastation. If by chance another storms comes your way, those customers will remember what you have previously done. You will instantly create “first time mind”.
In the end, no one wants any sort of devastation. But they happen and your business needs to be prepared for them. If you don’t have a Post Storm Social Media Plan, creating one to utilize now is too late. But creating one is a must. Consult with your marketer and be prepared.
Any questions on Post Storm Social Media Plan or a Social Media Crisis Plan, contact us at

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michael de Filippi
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 22:42:56

    Great points Al. I totally agree in social media and the ability to be in nearly constant contact with your consumers/clients etc…


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