Why Facebook Live is a Key Communications Tool in an Emergency
When bad weather is forecasted or an emergency hits, the first place most people go to get information is social media. They’ll scroll Facebook to get updates from friends, media outlets and emergency information channels (both official and unofficial).
Despite the known trend to check social media first, many organizations are still resistant to using Facebook Live and other livestream video to provide updates in an emergency. Why? It’s a mix of holding onto traditional emergency communications tools (press releases, website updates, emergency notifications) and fear of messing up or stumbling through a live video.
This reluctance from official sources to use a free and powerful tool only pushes people to get information from other sources (often less reliable).
As someone who has worked in crisis communications for over 20 years, I not only see the value in Facebook Live but also embrace it as a key communications tool in emergencies.
Let’s face it, regardless of how many press releases, website updates or social media posts you churn out, very few people are going to keep up with all the information. Why? Because in times of stress our ability to process information is limited.
Easy summary of crisis
This is where Facebook Live is a handy tool. A quick 2-minute video at the beginning and/or end of the day is a great way to summarize what’s happened, what’s anticipated, how to get help and other key health and safety information. It’s a way to provide key details in a short and easy to consume manner.
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve written countless emergency communications plans for clients. Whereas plans from 10 years ago focused on conveying information via the media, today’s plans have a social media first approach. Particularly using Facebook (community focused) and Twitter (followed more by the media).
While many communicators understand and value Facebook Live, it can still be tough getting senior management buy-in. Often these individuals are skeptical of social media (it’s not formal enough), prefer following scripts (versus being real) and are afraid of making mistakes.
So how do we sell Facebook Live as a key communications tool in an emergency?
The proof is in the pudding
I believe it starts with showing successful uses of Facebook Live. There are organizations that have embraced this quick and easy way to share updates. Show clips to your leadership team as examples of best practices.
It’s also important to break down any misconceptions about video quality. Some people are still holding on to the professional $20,000 videos.
The beauty about Facebook Live is it is real people who are often unscripted and in casual environments. Gone are the need for perfect lighting, professional microphones, and a script.
Most smart phones do an excellent job of recording video. So, all you need are some key messages, a good backdrop (I’m a fan of pop-up banners with the organization’s logo and website), and someone who doesn’t overexplain.
To be successful at Facebook Live means worrying less about job titles and more about the abilities of the speaker. Are they comfortable talking to a camera, are they knowledgeable about the subject, do they appear calm and confident and are they flexible with their availability (able to go live quickly if the situation calls for it)?
Change can be hard for large organizations to embrace, but moving to social media, including Facebook Live, is a change that is needed to keep people informed and safe during emergencies. And after all, isn’t that our ultimate goal in an emergency?