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Social Media During a Crisis - Tips for Hotels and CVBs

The terrorist attacks in Boston brought home both the power and the peril of social media.

On the one hand the Twitterverse quickly got the news out,along with photos and information that could help locate a loved one. 

The downside was the contrast of tweets streaming across my screen from people who had obviously no ideaof the tragedy that had occurred.

Most of us who use social media in our business tend torely on tools like HootSuite, TweetDeck or other social media management softwareto schedule posts ahead of time.  When tragedy strikes some of those pre-scheduled posts can come across astrite, irrelevant, or downright insensitive.

Pity the hapless social media coordinator at a Bostonhotel who might have pre-scheduled tweets around a happy Boston marathonoutcome...  When terror strikes and people turnto Twitter or Facebook for updates they might not understand these pre-scheduled tweets.

We'd all prefer not to think of being in such asituation, but it's all too real for Boston hoteliers right now. Andit doesn't have to be related to a terror attack. What if a large convention isat your hotel and there is a surprise protest outside your doors (like there was last year in Montreal)?  That's when your social media activities quickly turn into crisis management.

Here's what you need to think about when putting togetheryour social media plan and your backup in case of an emergency:

1) Create access to your social media managementtools through your mobile device or smart phone so that if somethingcatastrophic happens you can access your pre-scheduled posts quickly.

2) Ensure more than one person has access to these socialmedia management tools. This way if someone is otherwise occupied, anotherperson can take over.

3) Consider putting your social media updates on hold if something big isgoing on. It's no use coming across as uninformed. 

4) If you choose to engage your followers, treadcautiously. Focus on being helpful and safety-oriented.  Do not engage in re-posting graphic ordisturbing imagery. Don't speculate about perpetrators or the number ofvictims.

5) Beware your sources. In the crisis yesterday one source was quoted as saying that a bomb hadgone off at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. As Fairmont Hotels & Resortsis one of our clients, I was perturbed to hear the news. But I double checkedother news sources, and saw that the Fairmont Copley Plaza had tweeted about update on their Facebook page. They confirmed no bomb had gone off atthe hotel. That was a huge relief, and double-checking prevented me fromspreading incorrect information.

6) Have your social media crisis plan in place and review it regularly.  For help onhow to draft a social media crisis plan check out the following:
I hope you never have to manage a crisis at your hotel or in your city.  But if you do, you'll be glad you had a plan!