Using Mobile Social Media for Crisis Communications

February 24, 2010: Jim Larranaga, Executive Vice President

Every industry seems to have a topic niche on Twitter. Search for financial institutions and you'll find many posts on interest rate changes and the best rates. Do the same for the healthcare industry, and you'll see lots of friendly reminders to exercise or cook with healthy recipes. I recently discovered the utility industry has a unique niche on Twitter, too.

What does your gas or electric company need to tweet about?

Are they going to remind you to turn off the lights before you leave for work in the morning? Well, not exactly. Some utilities are testing Twitter as a crisis communications tool. When areas of the country are hit by storms or hurricanes, power lines are often affected. That means your power might go out and you’ll have no way to access updates online or even on TV. You might even be forced to evacuate your home during a hurricane or flood.

What good is Twitter if you don’t have power or you’re far from your home internet connection? Well, pretty good considering that 82% of the U.S. population had a cell phone by 2007 and internet access on phones is snowballing (sorry about the weather-related pun). Mobile social media allows utilities to keep customers up-to-date in real time.

Twitter also allows customers to share information back to their utility company. A downed power line or gas leak can be easily tweeted back to the utility, improving service and even preventing a tragic accident.

Twitter doesn’t have to be all fun and social. It can provide a valuable, critical service too. 

This blog post was originally published on the Priority Blog at Priority Integrated Marketing is now BlueSpire Strategic Marketing.

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