Why Hurricane Harvey Victims are Turning to Social Media for Assistance: And How You Can Help

By: The Clarabridge Team

August 29, 2017

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The enormous impact of Tropical Hurricane Harvey has victims, federal agencies, and social media users alike scrambling for information and ways to help. Once again, Social Media is proving itself to be a vital lifeline for both those who need help and agencies that need to supply up-to-date information, quickly.

Now, that federal agencies have the ability to deliver credible, and reliable information on social – it makes it almost impossible for false information to be taken seriously when users can go to directly to the source for the facts. Although that should be the case, it’s one of the reasons it’s their key responsibility to keep the social media universe updated. In addition to federal agencies being able to provide information, other organizations that people rely heavily on – transportation companies (trains, airplanes, buses, etc.), hotels, hospitals and even first response teams can make announcements, or communicate with people when other lines of communication are unsuccessful. This is especially important to note since emergency lines were congested during the storm. Left without sources of energy, victims were left with low battery power, making it challenging to remain on hold for long periods of time, or to repeatedly call for assistance.

It’s your responsibility to ensure the safety of your customers the best way you can, and one way to do that is providing them with the information and help they need during a time of crisis. We’re willing to bet that most businesses with customers that need their help right now were unprepared to handle such a crisis via Social Media. Here are a few tips to help you out as you work to inform and help your followers in the best way possible:

Acknowledge: Let followers know that you’re aware of the tragedy and how it may be impacting them. Make sure they know that your team will be providing real-time updates as you work through this tough time. This is not a time where you want to keep a light and carefree tone—in fact, now is the time to be authoritative and direct.

Assess: Use the tools you have available to understand where people are impacted most and where your business can provide relevant information. By understanding and using appropriate search terms, your team will be able to proactively find out information so that they can provide help. By getting out ahead of it, your followers won’t need to go viral in an attempt to get support.

Action: Stop everything (all scheduled posts, social ads, etc.) while you work to give out information. The last thing you want to happen is giving off the impression that your brand’s agenda is to promote the product and increase bottom line in the midst of an emergency. This is especially important if your company has a responsibility to keep the public informed during an emergency. For instance, if you’re an airline and having delays due to weather-related emergencies, you have to be sensitive to the fact that your customers are going to be angry, upset, fearful, and confused. That said, the last thing you want to happen is for one of your scheduled posts to get published, saying, “Get away from the rain with a quick trip to Costa Rica”. This is guaranteed to add fuel to the fire and is an easily avoidable mistake. Taking action in the form of being human, informative and tonally appropriate, can ensure that your brand has some influence on steering the direction and tone of those conversations even in the midst of an emergency.

These were just a few tips to help you navigate times such as these. Perhaps your customers aren’t in need of help from your business directly at the time, and if so—here’s a few other ways you can help.