Ever more businesses and individuals are embracing social media to promote their products and services in a more informal and interactive way. Research by independent business studies shows that close to 83% of major corporations have adopted at least some form of social media strategy and those remaining looking at ways to establish that capability. Engaging social media is a subtle skill and the risks from poor execution are numerous. Loss of intellectual property, failure to clearly engage and the risk of misinterpreted statements are all business risk however failure to support its use opens a vacuum for other sources to fill the information gap. Social media is still immature and used improperly risks alienating the very people a company is attempting to engage.
While customers are receptive to the trend they have also eagerly welcomed the opportunity to respond directly when those services fail. It is a publicly available, open source customer complaints system that brands are unable to control. By the same token it is also a direct route to your customers and offers a unique opportunity for you to have the dialogue you want with the people directly purchasing your product or service. A link into the living room with a level of familiarity like never before. So what are the ways that the field of business resilience can capture this trend?
Horizon Scanning and intelligence
Social media is an excellent tool towards horizon scanning, taking into account rising threats and emerging risks. Social media presents raw and unfiltered intelligence, the significance and accuracy of which is not always clear. However there are fewer more up to date sources of intelligence, setting out emerging trends, customer opinions and rapid emerging details from incidents like the recent London riots or ash cloud from which now both the public and press are acting as media filters.
In the business resilience field organisations have a dual opportunity to develop tools for anticipating and then responding to crises that might affect them. Recent civil disturbances, strike action and other disruptive activity across the UK capital was almost exclusively organised through social media and telephone networks. Businesses with a practiced horizon scanning capability anticipated and planned for the interruptions that occurred. Social media also presents a way in which a business can promote its resilient credentials, advertising its plans and providing an extra layer of reassurance to customers, clients and suppliers in times of crisis. These tools are increasingly a method for updating stakeholders and providing situational updates and demonstrating a real commitment and understanding of resilience.