How Do I Communicate When it’s Dark?

If there is anything we can learn from the Facebook outage, it’s we can’t rely on only one (or in this case, three) forms of communication. Social Media is more than just Facebook and Instagram.

When Facebook (and its partners Instagram and WhatsApp) on Monday, October 4, social media managers everywhere breathed a sigh of relief for a break in the chaos of their day. However, when that first hour turned into two, and then four, panic started to creep into their minds.

According to Pew Research’s Social Media Use in 2021 published in April of this year, 69% of U. S. adults use Facebook, and 70% of those adults visit the site at least once daily, debunking the idea that the popular social networking site is dead or dying.

For many of us, Facebook is where most of our audience is, and the study is proof of that. If it’s down – or dare I say, gone – how exactly are we supposed to get information out to our stakeholders? Having a strategic communications plan in place that has a broad range of platforms included can help you not only stay connected to every member of your audience, but also make sure you are doing it according to the American Disabilities Act as well.

Expand your horizons digitally

Have you taken a moment to look at your digital platforms and thought about how you could broaden your reach? There are a lot of outlets at your fingertips that could be more user-friendly options for your followers like starting a digital magazine on Medium, a radio style podcast on SoundCloud, a video newscast on YouTube or Vimeo, and of course the old school email newsletters.

Don’t forget to inform your followers on your platform that they can follow you on ALL your platforms. Create a page on your agency website that has links to all your social media sites on it. Share that page once in a while to remind folks there are other outlets they can find you on and encourage them to follow you there as well.

Maybe even share ‘exclusive’ content on one platform, tease it on the rest to encourage activity on it as well. News organizations do it all the time. “See the whole interview at 11pm” but in your case “See the whole interview on our YouTube channel.”

What’s good for the goose, and all.

When in doubt, utilize what works: Paper and Media Outlets

Take a lesson from Hurricane Michael and always have some non-digital options prepared.

When Hurricane Michael took the Florida Panhandle out, the entire area was without power or cell service for 13 days. For communications to work, Public Information Officers relied on word of mouth, handwritten signs, and posters printed from business outside of the ‘strike zone’ hours away. Information was shared between each other via satellite phones and amateur radios until cellular lines were up and running again.

They also utilized traditional media outlets as much as they could. Radio interviews were most popular because everyone had access to radio (it’s a staple for our hurricane kits, for those who don’t know) and most frequencies can be broadcast over long distances. Newspaper reporters were able to have interviews with us, and we were able to shlep those papers in for people to get caught up on what was going on. Broadcast journalists were sharing information with the rest of the world but were also able to help get information out to the people via word of mouth through their satellite phones by communicating with each other, then becoming the voice speaking to the masses nearby.

New media only works when it’s functioning properly… and when there is electricity to power everything. Sure, this is only applicable in a crisis. But is it really? I can think of five reasons why the power would not be functional that have little to do with a crisis. Either way, it’s always smart to have contact with a traditional media outlet to help you. Perhaps getting a contract with a print service would be a smart move as well.

Make your plan NOW.

Now is a perfect time to meet with your Social Media team and consider alternatives to networking platforms. Investing in these things can bring you a new audience as well as help your current audience stay informed during the next blackout. It can also make sure you are communicating as best you can for the next crisis for ALL your audiences.

The best time to prepare for a communications blackout is BEFORE you have one.

Published by jljohnson

Just a city girl, living in a screwed up world... Oh, wait. That's me screwing up song lyrics again.

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