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Home » Editor's Comment

Why NATO turned to Facebook to drop its latest bomb

Submitted by on October 28, 2011 – 11:25 amOne Comment

Mere hours after Muammar Gaddafi was killed in southern Libya last week, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis took to his Twitter feed and to his Facebook page to announce an end to military operations. People from around the world used the forum to thank him personally for NATO’s efforts in ousting Libya’s strong man. Another 43 re-Tweeted the message. As of the time of writing it was “Liked” 269 times and shared another 146 times. To the victor goes the Tweets, I guess.

Why would the highest ranking NATO commander in the region turn to social media to announce his intention to call for an end to the war? Certainly there are more serious channels – i.e., a press release, the BBC or Al Jazeera, The New York Times. No? Well, consider that NATO and Stavridis are not in any way breaking new ground here. In March, the International Atomic Energy Agency turned their Facebook page into the primary broadcast channel to inform the world about the conditions at Japan’s imperiled Fukushima nuclear power plant. Why? Because of the massive reach and the timely nature of getting out vital information to as many people as possible. Choosing social media was a no-brainer for NATO considering the role Facebook and Twitter played in the North African uprisings, now known as the “Arab Spring.”

That organizations of the size and importance of NATO and IAEA are turning to social media to keep the world informed on life-and-death issues should really come as no surprise to us these days. What is surprising though is that while big lumbering organizations are turning increasingly social, many companies still cannot figure out what role social plays in their crisis communications strategy. We’ve outlined recently how big companies continue to fall flat on their face when it comes to navigating the social media crisis. The good general could teach them a lesson or two.

Earlier this week we published a handy guide to help companies and organizations better prepare themselves for reputation management in the social media age. We’re calling it the “Social Media Crisis Communications decision tree.”

Also, we want to remind you about our upcoming Social Media Crisis Communications Workshop to be held in London on November 16. We can guarantee this is not like any crisis training workshop you’ve ever been on. Teaming with Neil Chapman, formerly of BP, we’ll teach you the tactics and tools to survive the next corporate crisis before it goes viral.

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