B2B Businesses: Going Social During Natural Disasters


When phone lines go down, social media is one outlet many can turn to. As Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast this week or earthquakes rock the West, social media and other marketing channels can prove invaluable. While most marketers handle customer crises, such as a dissatisfied customer or negative online review, with a strategic plan of approach, Mother Nature’s events are not always as easy to manage. Your B2B business can make the most of its marketing team during a hurricane by bracing for the storm with yet another plan, one that easily adapts to change. Marketing during a hurricane isn’t about your product, it’s about your people and the people affected.

Hurricane Sandy (Hurricane Irene Image)Email Marketing

If you’re looking for something to reach all your readers and customers on a more regular basis than blogging, but work with something that requires less time than social media maintenance, consider your e-mail marketing database. You can reach a wide spread of people who may not be on social media or active blog readers. Here are a few ways you can use your email database during Hurricane Sandy.

  • Use your newsletter lists. Many B2B businesses have newsletters. Send out a newsletter that provides information on natural disaster assistance and recovery. Keep the focus on the hurricane or natural event at hand first and tie in your business second.
  • Rework your email blast. When phone lines are down, people may turn to their email. Marketers always want timed email campaigns to be valuable and provide relevant information. Even in a moment of crisis, this should be your aim. Make sure you are providing current news updates related to your industry, geographical location and business as well as resources others can turn to for help.

Social Media

Social media provides users with the latest information on trending topics. Whether that’s SEO, a celebrity or Hurricane Sandy, people turn to their social networks for the most up-to-date reports. You can quickly communicate with your employees and customers by being tuned into your social media networks. Make sure you’re accurate, responsible and prompt to respond. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure that happens.

  • Be proactive. When you’re expecting a storm that could derail production or phone communications, make sure your followers and employees know what your business is doing in the event that happens.
  • Be consistent. Provide your fans and followers with consistent updates to avoid confusion and keep the communication lines open.
  • Be compassionate and keep calm. The information you share needs to be accurate and up-to-date. Your followers and fans want to be informed, so your business needs to be too – especially when it comes to the areas hit hardest.

Blogging

While social media may be a great resource for staying current with the latest news relating to Hurricane Sandy in real time, blogging is another channel your business can turn to. If you don’t have the time or opportunity to closely monitor social media, blogging is one area your business could turn to. A blog post before, during and after a storm can keep customers informed without the effort required by social media.

  • Before: When you are expecting a hurricane or other event that will impair the abilities of your business, writing a blog post about the realistic expectations, i.e. shipping delays, back orders, etc., can allow customers with orders pending to know what to expect. Even if you’re business won’t be hit, provide links to sites and resources others can turn to if affected.
  • During: This is an opportunity for your business to provide updates about the natural disaster, your business, and, again, resources those who are hit can turn to. Keep calm and provide information for how your business is managing with current conditions. Remain positive!
  • After: The first blog post after a storm should make note of how your business plans to pick up operations now that the dust has settled. While each business and industry will have to handle the situation differently, this post should be a positive and informational read, much like the rest of your natural disaster communications.

Marketing is often on the front lines and may be used to dealing in damage control online. However, using social media, your business blog, and email marketing database during Hurricane Sandy or an earthquake isn’t something to take lightly. You don’t want to lose your business or compassion. Balance the business and compassion for those being hit when your turn to a company account during a natural disaster. Don’t forget, there are useful organizations to follow before, during and after a natural disaster for breaking news and alerts as well as tips for staying safe. You may also want to tune into the channels your local newspaper, news station or government agencies are using.

How does your marketing team handle hurricanes?

Resources:

American Red Cross, FEMA.gov, NOAA.gov, National Hurricane Center

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