When the recent salmonella outbreak caused by tainted peanut butter started making people sick, government health agencies relied heavily on social media to get the word out. Their social media efforts helped to quickly inform the public, possibly reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by the illness, according to federal health officials.
Officials with Health and Human Services Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said social media helped them spread the word that peanut butter recall. The agencies used widgets, blogs, Twitter, podcasts, mobile alerts and online videos to warn the public that peanut butter manufactured by Peanut Corp. of America for institutional use and for additives in other products such as snacks may be tainted with salmonella. Eight people died and 500 were sickened by the infected peanut butter.
“The response has been really amazing,” said Janice Nall, director of the division of eHealth marketing at CDC, on the public’s reaction to her agency’s social media campaign. “We look at social media as additional channels to reach people where they are.”
The recent salmonella outbreak and how government agencies used every available form of media to inform the public provides all of us with a valuable real-world case study on how to use social media to help manage a crisis.
When a crisis hits your business, you don’t want customers searching for answers from sources who don’t know the true story. You want to be sure that your customers are getting all the information they need, directly from you.
Social media is playing a bigger role than ever in crisis communication, simply because it is the most direct outlet to reach customers. More than ever before, people are using sources like Twitter, blogs and Google to find the latest information.
Don’t let someone else do the talking for you and ensure that customers are getting the latest information about your company directly from you. Especially when a crisis hits, you want to be the number one source they turn to.