Hootsuite COVID-19 Resources

The role of social media in crisis communications

In a crisis, social media’s role is much larger and more complex than simply checking Facebook’s Crisis Response tool. 55% of Americans get their news from social media. Meanwhile, first-person accounts and opinions from regular people break news, shape narratives, and influence opinion.

For teams working at the center of a crisis, social platforms are one of the top ways to get authoritative information to the population, fast.

And for those of us operating farther from the crisis, social media is how people connect and make sense of tragedy. Brands can’t ignore these conversations, but participation must be approached with care.

So, when the world’s in a tailspin, what role does social media play in a crisis communications plan?

  • Rapid, direct communication of updates to your audience;
  • Support for people who need help or information;
  • Social listening to learn more broadly about what’s happening in the world and your industry, as well as what people need from your brand.

In short, social media isn’t just where you say you’re helping, but it’s also where you find out how you can help, and, in many cases, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Whatever crisis we face, we all hope that after it passes, we’ll come out changed for the better. On social media, that means strengthening trust and connections with our audience for the long term.

What does that look like? Here are Hootsuite’s 10 tips for communicating on social media during a crisis or emergency.