Social Media and Mobile Devices Again Leading the Way in Crisis Events

Posted on April 21, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , |

When the massive natural disaster occurred in Japanon 11 March the value of mobile devices and social media were once again brought to the forefront for capturing and disseminating the latest news quickly. Users were not only able to get the latest news through social networks but also send and receive updates, prompt help for those in need and share an unprecedented amount of eyewitness video footage.

Social networks sites were not only helpful for retrieving news, but also served as a form of community bulletin board to find loved ones after the earthquake. As telephone lines were jammed or no longer in service, those affected were able to use sites such as Skype, Twitter, Facebook and Mixi to inform others of their whereabouts and status. Within an hour of the earthquake, 1,200 tweets per minute were coming from Tokyo alone. By day’s end over 246,000 messages were published under the topic “Earthquake in Japan”. And in one day, 4.5 million people changed their status to include “earthquake”, “Japan”, or “tsunami”.   

Social networks also supported the efforts of Kameda Medical Center in Chiba. The medical center agreed to treat victims of the earthquake, but soon found itself running out of food and medical supplies, and no truck or ambulance would come close from fear of radiation at the nearby Fukushima reactors. Hospital director Nobuo Hiwatashi issued an appeal through the Mainichi Japan newspaper with little response. Finally, the hospital posted two urgent pleas for help on the Twitter stream of US Ambassador John Roos, instantly contacting Roos through his mobile. An hour or so later, evacuation of the patients were organized byJapan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces.

Local governments and agencies started using social media as a tool, including the local government in Mitaka city in western Tokyo, which put information on Twitter to inform local citizens about electricity blackouts in real-time. The US Government also posted advisories and updates to its citizens residing in Japan through Twitter and Facebook.

Blogger “konnichiwa-japan” explained in a nutshell why Twitter became so popular: “as the days progressed, I found the Tweet feed from people actually on the ground in affected areas to be the best source of news. Links from Twitter showed me NHK News’ English Upstream live feed, real-time reporting of radiation levels, Upstream of Geiger counters, and a variety of other useful sites that I never would have gotten from traditional TV or newspaper media.”

The natural disaster in Japan demonstrated how social networks have significantly impacted the ways in which we communicate and connect with each other. It was a life saver to many that had no ways of reaching other channels for help. As an instrument for change, individuals were able to not only trigger action and connect with friends but have their stories shared with millions across the globe.

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It Pays to Discover: Managing Issues to Regain Lost Trust

Posted on April 14, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , |

We’ve just released a new ebook: “Analyze & Discover: Measuring the Effect of Digital Opportunities on Reputation & Brand Equity.” The ebook offers insight into the process, metrics, and tools that can help you identify opportunities and manage risk effectively. Here’s an excerpt:

The first step in managing risk is to assess the maturity level of each issue. After all, with a constantly expanding universe of risks in social media, no one organization could (or should) react to every issue that crosses their transom. Rather, executives must categorize issues/risks according to how real of a threat they are to the brand, reputation, and bottom line. Common categories include:

• Latent: Comments by/conversations among non-influencers that are untrue, insignificant, unsubstantiated, and/or unconnected. These issues should be watched passively and are not likely to become critical.
• Emerging: Comments by/conversations among influencers and non-influencers alike that contain potentially damaging themes, but that have not yet reached critical mass. These claims, while not always entirely true, have an element of credibility that is cause for concern, and should therefore be watched actively.
• Critical: Comments by/conversations among influencers that have a consistent theme, present credible evidence, and/or express legitimate concerns. These issues have the highest potential of becoming full-blown crises and should therefore be addressed immediately.

To fully understand the role discovery plays in the new social media process, consider the financial industry’s experiences with online platforms. The effects of widespread malfeasance and a massive economic downturn have obliterated consumers’ trust in financial institutions, forcing many of them to begin rebuilding relationships with their stakeholders in the most unlikely places: social media platforms.

Social media has certainly given consumers amply opportunities to voice their discontent with financial institutions, and these companies are just beginning to engage in online conversations to rebuild the brand equity that had been demolished by a coalescence of factors. That’s not to say adoption is widespread: According to Wetpaint and Altimeter Group’s July 2009 “ENGAGEMENTdb” report, the financial industry is one of the least engaged in social media. Being hindered by government regulations is certainly a factor, but more and more companies are finding ways to engage and play by the rules at the same time. Among the most “social” financial brands:

Wells Fargo: Manages multiple blogs for different target audiences. One in particular, the Wells Wachovia blog, was launched after Wells Fargo beat out Citigroup for control of Wachovia. It became a resource for joint customers, as well as a place where they could voice concerns about the transition.
H&R Block: One of the first financial brands to begin leveraging Twitter as a customer service tool, first by monitoring the platform for issues and then responding directly to the individuals who had expressed concerns/frustrations.
Citi Cards: Leveraged social media during the launch of its Citi Forward product, specifically intended to help young consumers manage their credit; effort included blogger outreach, a Twitter presence and a YouTube channel.

Download the ebook to learn more about managing issues.

Diane Thieke is Marketing Director at Dow Jones.

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