Last Night, a Tweet Saved My Life
As social media becomes more popular in practically every demographic group, so is its ability to communicate directly with companies and agencies.
This trend extends to reaching out through platforms such as Twitter for help, whether to properly fix a customer service issue or to relieve a true emergency. The American Red Cross recently conducted a survey that concluded about one in five adults in the United States would use social media to contact emergency responders in a disaster.
The immediacy of social media enables it to spread information about an ongoing emergency as people want or need help. If 911 systems are inundated with calls or phone lines are down, it’s reasonable to expect use of available communication tools and expect a prompt response.
Thus, tweeting and posting can be a matter of life and death.
Social media can also be used to address an important, but non-life threatening emergency, such as a question about medication or the use of a microwave oven. These are immediate situations that require a quick response.
Companies and organizations that decide to use social media must be able and willing to respond, as it has become more than a community-building effort or a platform to restore a disgruntled customer’s faith in a brand. It isn’t enough to push information out to your audience.
Companies are using social media as a customer service platform, which is great news. In fact, more than half of the Fortune 100 companies are using Twitter to respond to customer queries and to send company updates. But, some companies still are treating the mediums as an easily updatable newsletter and aren’t expecting customers to react. However, customers expect responses without delay – 74 percent in the Red Cross survey said they expected help to come less than an hour after their tweet or Facebook post.
Not every interaction with your social media community will have the impact of an emergency on somebody’s life. However, it’s important to know users’ perceptions of reaction time and response style as this medium continues to evolve.
(Thanks to Chris Violette for the photo)
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