The Power Of Utilizing Social Media Data With Crisis

André Batz Jensen is a digital advisor at LEAD Agency in Denmark.

When working with crisis communications and public relations in general, it’s important to take into account all aspects of a situation. Today, social media is a crucial form of communication that takes up an essential amount of space in the digital environment.

In this article, I will show you exactly how to utilize and benefit from social media data when working with crisis communications.

Getting A Complete Picture Of Your Stakeholders

Social media data can be a valuable source of information when it comes to understanding public opinion and mapping out relevant stakeholders or influencers. By analyzing social media data, you can get a good overview of who is talking about your organization or a specific topic, and which channels they are using. By knowing who the key stakeholders are, you can better target your communications and outreach efforts. Stakeholder mapping can also help you identify any possible risks or challenges that might arise.

Below are seven steps for how to use social media data to better map out your communications strategy:

Delimit the space.

The first—and perhaps most vital—step is to define your space. For example, let’s say I’m representing a medical firm that develops diabetes-related products. Therefore, I would define my area as diabetes.

Define search keywords.

It’s critical to define search phrases and limit the amount of information you need to explore. If you include everything dealing with diabetes, you’ll receive a very big dataset. That’s why it’s vital to narrow down your zone by establishing search keywords. In this example, we will dive into anything related to continuous glucose monitoring. Our defined search strings, therefore, might include:

• “Continuous glucose monitoring” (CGM).

• “Continuous glucose monitor.”

• “Blood glucose levels.”

• “Insulin pump.”

• “CGM in relation to diabetes.”

• “CGM device.”

… you get the idea!

Select social media platforms and define the time frame.

While Facebook is one of the most popular social media networks, it also has a strict privacy policy, making it difficult for marketers and researchers to collect data. On the other hand, since Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have less stringent privacy policies, these platforms are an excellent choice for your research and data gathering. Invest in the channels your stakeholders or influencers are active on.

For our diabetes example, we’ll choose Twitter and Instagram as platforms. Twitter is an obvious choice for being able to reach political stakeholders, and Instagram is where we’ll be able to reach influencers like lifestyle experts, coaches, nutritionists and generally anyone who works with diabetes in one way or another.

You’ll also need to define the time frame for the data you collect. Consider the purpose and goal of the study as you choose your time period. You should pick a longer time span if you’re performing a retrospection, such as identifying and analyzing changed behavior over time. If you’re most interested in the present moment—say, finding active stakeholders in your industry—it’s perfectly fine to look back six to 12 months.

Extract the data.

To extract the data, you can use a social listening tool or scrape the data on your own using a programming language like R or Python. By doing this, you should have all the tweets and posts containing the keywords you’ve defined in one place.

Analyze the data.

Once you have your data, it’s time to analyze it. You can use various methods and tools, such as text analytics or sentiment analysis to get a deeper understanding of what people are saying about your organization or the topic you’re interested in.

For our “continuous glucose monitoring” example, we’ll concentrate on stakeholders—all persons or institutions with an interest in the subject at hand. In this case, stakeholders might include political figures, organizations, media people, journalists, nutritionists, coaches and other lifestyle experts. We’ll evaluate the stakeholders on the following parameters:

Influence: Number of subscribers/followers.

Activity: Number of posts/tweets in the analyzed space.

Visualize the data.

Now that you have collected and analyzed the data, it’s time to visualize it. This will give you a good overview of who’s talking about your topic, where they’re located, what they’re saying, which platforms they’re using and how influential they are. There are some simple visualization capabilities available with certain social media listening tools, but if you want to take it to the next level, export your data into an Excel file, after which you cleanse, analyze and visualize it yourself. This will take technical know-how as well as experience working in Excel at a more advanced level, but the results will be significantly better.

Prioritize your stakeholders.

You’ve now got everything you need to prioritize your stakeholders. Furthermore, you should have a clear understanding of the various stakeholders’ viewpoints. As a result, you may now modify your communication and tailor messages to the distinct groups of stakeholders you have discovered.

An example might be that you have discovered a number of stakeholders who commonly criticize a certain kind of CGM device and another group of stakeholders who praise the same type of CGM device. Your objective is to provide accurate product information. You, therefore, plan and create tailored communication with those who have frequently expressed their dissatisfaction with the product. You’re aiming to convince this group of players that the product truly does not fail anything and meets all of its criteria in a matter-of-fact way.

You could also have a distinct approach to the positive stakeholders. You don’t need to persuade them; rather, you must nurture them in order to keep them as effective advocates. That is precisely why there is a need for bespoke communication.

Strengthening Your Strategy With Data From Social Media

By utilizing social media data with crisis communications and public relations, you can gain a more complete picture of your stakeholders and their level of influence, understand public opinion better and identify any potential risks or challenges. This can help you target your communications and outreach efforts more effectively and ensure that your organization is well prepared for any situation.

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