Social Media: Not Only for Disaster Recovery, but Disaster Response

Vocalcom is a huge believer in the rise of social media for customer service. After all, one in every nine people on Earth is on Facebook, and Twitter handles 1.6 billion queries per day. All of these customers want to be serviced; however, we also know that the integral role social media plays for customer service can easily spill over to encompass multiple forms of outreach – especially during natural disasters.

Businesses that are terrified of downtime or failure during a natural disaster have been utilizing social media as a next generation disaster recovery plan for some time now. However, over the last year or so, social media has increasingly proven to be a legitimate method of keeping communication open – even when the power goes out (like during last year’s Hurricane Sandy and the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado).

New research compiled from 1980 to 2010 is now proving the substantial growth of social media as a form of reliable disaster response. The research shows that every year in the U.S., there is an average .77 earthquakes, 1.74 wildfires, 4.26 floods and 12.65 storms – all which create an average annual economic impact of $1.76 billion.

In fact, according to an infographic from the University of San Francisco’s Master of Public Administration department:

·         25 percent of individuals download disaster-related mobile apps

·         One in five Americans have used an emergency app

·         24 percent of individuals have used social media to inform their loved ones that they are safe during a natural disaster

·         76 percent have contacted their loved ones to make sure they were safe via social media

·         37 percent have used information on social media to purchase supplies and find shelter

·         18 percent of individuals have retrieved emergency information through Facebook

Perhaps most importantly, one in five survivors contact emergency responders via social media, websites or e-mail. In fact, during disasters, social networks often replace traditional 911 calls as the “go-to” source for help. As a contact center manager, consider if your call center software provides robust social media support for such use.

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