Three-quarters of organisations will use social media as part of their business continuity management (BCM) strategies by 2015 with communication during crises a key component of its role.
According to Gartner, businesses are already tasking their BCM teams to assess the opportunities to use public social media platforms to support business continuity.
Andrew Walls, research vice president at Gartner, said organisations simply cannot afford to ignore social media as a crisis communications tool.
"In many cases, social media may represent the only available means of locating and contacting personnel; providing stakeholders with the information and assistance they need; informing citizens, customers and partners of product/service availability; and taking other business-critical actions following a disruptive event," said Wall.
Public social media platforms are used as business-to-consumer tools already and recent research from YouGov found that 65% of the UK’s online population have used Facebook in the last month. Facebook has the highest percentage of active users of all social media platform.
A massive 95% of 16-20 year olds and 74% of 21-24 year olds have accessed Facebook within the last month.
YouTube is the next most popular with 50% of UK internet users using the site within the last month. Meanwhile Twitter was accessed by 23% of UK internet users, Windows Live 14%, LinkedIn 13% and Google+, 12% %.
Walls warned that effective use of a new communications channel requires forward planning and practice and using social media for the first time during a crisis could cause more harm than good. He said that organisations must develop comprehensive social media strategies and tactics for crisis/incident management and integrate social media with the organisation's established BCM processes.
Additional information is available in the Gartner report The Do's and Don'ts of Using Social Media in Business Continuity Management.