Maybe it was a fellow SDSVP partner asking me about fundraising metrics. Maybe it was watching the painful recent experience at Komen. Maybe it was seeing the frustration of users of domain registrar DynaDot when their system went down this weekend. In any case, I see lots of articles about the value of using social media to engage, but less about the risks.
You can read hordes of articles about getting your nonprofit on twitter or how to do effective fundraising on facebook. But what about the risks? When is it better to not connect at all rather than connect poorly?
More importantly: you can draft all the plans you want for successful engagement on social media. But the real test is whether you have a plan for using those channels in a crisis. And if you don’t have such a plan, then you might be better off having no social media presence.
These days customers, clients, and contacts expect and demand responsiveness. Everybody thinks you’ve got a cellphone and should be reachable 24/7. When was the last time it was okay to ignore a text? Not to use your smartphone or blackberry to respond to an email for days? Not check your facebook more than a couple times a month?
You can debate the merits of this “always on” world, but clearly open responsiveness has invaded the culture.
What does this mean for crisis management? Quick, transparent communication is a must – especially if you have open channels like twitter and facebook. When a crisis breaks, and the social media channels start buzzing, if your last status update is outdated and/or irrelevant, you’re pissing people off. Even a prompt acknowledgement can go a long way to keeping people happy.
It all boils down to the old argument of proactive vs reactive. Which one are you? Which one do your donors and volunteers expect you to be?