Here is this weeks On the Marc column. Unfortunately this will be the last one for a while, as I have decided against contributing to The Bugle newspaper for a number of reasons.
I will still try and write a column every now and then, which I will publish on my site. If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see, please feel free to leave a comment below :)
How Social Media helped Europe in a time of crisis.
Last week, the large majority of Europe came to a complete standstill when a small glacier volcano off the coast of Iceland erupted. Airline traffic in and around Europe was halted, as the ash from the volcano formed a cloud some 5 kilometers above ground. For almost a week passengers scattered around the world were unable to utilise flight services to and from Europe, and left many people stranded in foreign countries. Some had no place to stay as airlines battled to find accommodation for affected passengers, as well as being unable to clarify when they may be able to fly again.
But it was popular social media tools: Facebook & Twitter that came to the rescue for some airlines and passengers. By utilizing the services offered by these Social Media tools, Airlines were able to instantly answer customers, who would have previously had to phone into a call centre. Twitter users started using the hashtag, as short tag in a tweet, #ashtag in their tweets to voice their concerns, which allowed fellow stranded passengers to interact. Soon, airlines such as KLM, Lufthansa & British Airways started using the hashtag: #ashcloud to update passengers on the situation. In just 7 days there were over 55,000 mentions of these hashtags. The European air safety control EuroControl, also used twitter for crisis management, by allowing official updates to be broadcast on twitter. Stranded passengers soon also started using the twitter hashtag: #getmehome, which would lead people in the affected countries to offers of accommodation and food from residents, whilst they were stranded.
Airlines also used Facebook as a tool to update passengers of the situation, as well as allowing users to interact and query flight statuses with airline employees dedicated to answering such queries. One of the affected airlines, SAS Scandanavia directed users to their Facebook Fanpage to post updates on the situation and ask questions about their flights. Their fan base on Twitter almost doubled in the week to over 21,000 fans.
It is great to see how companies are using social media as a crisis management tool and goes to show the value of using these tools in your everyday business.