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Roberta J. Witty
Research VP
11 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Roberta Witty is a research VP in Gartner Research, where she is part of the Compliance, Risk and Leadership group. Her primary area of focus is business continuity management and disaster recovery. Ms. Witty is the role specialty lead for… Read Full Bio

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A Post from My Colleague Andrew Walls: The New Normal: Social Media for Corporate Communications

by Roberta J. Witty  |  November 16, 2012  |  Comments Off

Over the last five years considerable attention has been paid to the rise of public social media as the dominant tool for communications during large scale disasters. In major crises such as the Queensland floods, Christchurch earthquake, Haitian earthquake, and the tsunami destruction of the Fukushima nuclear failures, individuals and organizations have leveraged a variety of social media outlets to make personal contact, broadcast data to the public and to correct misinformation. In the most recent major disaster, Hurricane Sandy’s march through the northeast of the United States, we again witnessed heavy use of social media.

This time though, it was different. No one was surprised by this or found the activity remarkable. Massive surge of tweets before, during and after Sandy hit? Sure, of course. People informing friends of their survival through FaceBook status updates? Meh. Thousands of YouTube videos of storm impact. Uh huh.

The predictability and casual acceptance of this pattern of reliance on public social media platforms is the important message that Sandy delivered. This is the new normal. When New Jersey and New York residents powered up their smartphones off of a free generator, they used the electrons to check and upload updates to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and thousands of blogs.  They did not open up web browsers to watch broadcast news. This is a clear indication of where consumers place their trust when it comes to critical communications.

If your organization has been hesitating to use social media to communicate with customers and employees it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. If you are not driving your corporate image and communications through social media, someone else is driving it for you and they may not have your interests in mind. Misinformation continues to appear in social media during disasters and normal life. Your customers and employees are looking for information in social media and you should make sure they are getting the correct information when they need and on the platforms that they have selected.

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