Using Twitter for issues and crisis management

If you are creating a social media strategy to handle issues or a crisis that your organisation (or you) may be facing, knowing how to use Twitter in these situations can be a powerful tool.

Twitter has grown to be one of the largest social media platforms. Unlike Facebook, which links people based primarily on their personal relationships, Twitter is built around its content. People follow others not because they know them, but because they like or are interested in what they are talking about, or just because they happen to be in the same locality. This means that information can be distributed to large amounts of people very quickly.

Think about the following tips for monitoring and responding to the chatter on Twitter the next time you are faced with an issue:

Set up geographical searches
While not the most accurate of searches, there are a number of tools available to let you see tweets based around a specific geographical location. If your organisation has specific geographical locations (think of your areas of operation, headquarters or any part of your business that is likely to attract a number of people) think about setting up specific geographical searches to monitor Twitter chatter coming out of those areas.

Monitor and build relationships in peacetime
One of the lines that is always used during media training at is that pro-active media is like ‘money in the bank of public perception’. This is never more true than in social media.

If you spend time building and cultivating your relationship with followers on Twitter, they will be more receptive to communication during a time of crisis. Take time to understand those that interact regularly with your brand online. Build the relationships based on trust and mutual communication, not selling.

Monitor online / respond offline

Just because you have a social media strategy doesn’t mean that your response strategy always has to be online. Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is picking up the phone and talking to someone. Make sure your response strategy includes offline as well as online.

Know your Twitter language

Anyone who has spent time online knows that sometimes Twitter users can sound like they are speaking their own foreign language. Cutting things to 140 characters can sometimes bring about some weird spellings. Make sure you know how your brand/sector/industry is being talked about online.

Give someone the role of online monitoring and communication- and the appropriate authority and training

Make sure that online monitoring, information dissemination and response is a dedicated role during the handling of an issue or a crisis. And no, this can’t be just ‘the team that update the website can do that’. Social media during crisis requires a dedicated position to continually monitor chatter and develop and issue responses.

The people earmarked for this role should be natural users of Twitter that are give adequate training to ensure they can handle this medium as part of your crisis/issues management plan – crisis time is not a time for learning social media.


In the aftermath of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, geographical and keyword searches were set up to cover specific towns and areas that had been hit by the tragedy. The monitoring was used to review all of the chatter that was coming out of the locations.

The role of this monitoring was not to create a vehicle for direct communication and information via social media- there were more appropriate and personal methods to do this on the ground. Instead, the information gleaned by reviewing information informed the issues management and communications processes. Monitoring the online chatter allowed an overview of some of the public sentiments that was being felt around these towns, allowing the communication strategy to adapt and respond.

Do you have any other tips?


Festival iPhone apps – this year’s Melbourne line-up

L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival app hits the mark for its audience

Melbourne is in the middle of festival season, so it got me thinking about looking at the availability and the use of iPhone apps for the number of festivals and events that his Australia over the summer.

Many of these events have multiple venues, multiple attractions that cover a whole area, or sometimes a whole city. Ticket sales and attendance rely heavily on marketing but crucially on word of mouth, an aspect that social media can help fill.

Despite the key role of social media in promotion, some of them have only touched the edges of connecting with their audience.

The St Kilda Festival 2011 this year released an iPhone app. While beautifully designed, it was not made for smart phones. The app played more like an online brochure, there was no interactivity with the schedule, and you had to keep flicking between a map and the schedule to figure out where you needed to be. The map used a graphically drawn map with a legend that had to be zoomed to be viewed on an iPhone screen – it’s lack of usability made it seem like nothing more than a well designed PDF split into separate screens for an iPhone.

Melbourne’s 2011 Midsumma Festival did better, with a What’s On screen that showed festival news, yet six items of news over 2 weeks of a festival left much to be desired. The program was interactive, giving details about each of the shows, links direct to ticket sales and the ability to pick favourite activities. The venue page linked directly with the map application on the iPhone, however, there were no links between the program and the venue pages – making it difficult to find out where an event was actually being held.

The L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival app is so far the best of 2011 so far. Designed in a style that will befit anyone interested in the fashion festival, the app includes background into each of the designers, an interactive program with ticket information and maps, and integration of the @LMFF twitter feed and #LMFF community tweets, blog and facebook page. In case this wasn’t enough, the app also includes a photo gallery featuring last year’s event and an integrated fashion festival TV channel.

So if you are organising a festival, event, show and thinking of including an iPhone app, what should you consider? Try these tips:

  • Plan – who are you talking to? Think about the audience that you want to visit your event. What phones are they using or online sites, where should your biggest presence be.
  • Integrate into your communication – Your iPhone app should not work outside of your marketing or online strategy. It should integrate seamlessly to your website and follow the branding strategy.
  • Give a little bit extra – Reward those that download apps. Give them information, behind the scenes news and videos, updates to keep them interested.
  • Don’t be afraid to sell – If your event relies on ticket sales, integrate ticket sales into your iPhone app to help you settle a sale immediately. Adding additional steps in the process will only annoy the user, and cost you seats.
  • Don’t just give your audience a map, help them get there – Use the power of the GPS on the iPhone to make it easy for your audience. Give them directions and show them events that are near them.
  • Talk with your audience and let them talk to each other – Give your audience news, regularly, and give them an opportunity to share it and talk with their own friends. Create twitter links in your application that automatically append you hashtag, and make it easy for them to share.

Got any other tips on iPhone apps that you want to share?

….,” says David

Community TV moves well ahead of commercial TV

What do the commercial TV stations do with their money?

TVS has just released its own iPhone app to allow viewers to stream their shows live on their phones. Excellent work, but why are our community stations leading the way?

Network Ten‘s iPhone app, I have to say, is crap. It has very little content, mainly news, and six of their worst shows. Seven are still a no-show on the iPhone, as is Nine.

As yet, no-one apart from iView, has an app that’s designed for the iPad.

Get it together.

…,” says David.