I live in South Louisiana where this week we had 4 Trillion gallons of water fall over a three day period. (weather.com) This resulted in a human tragedy that is hard to put into words; even if I tried you can not imagine it. I have friends that had water in their house - some with just a few inches and some with over eight feet.
Many phones went out. For many, the best means of communication was through social media for business and for personal.
One of my "best practices" that I share is to schedule posts and social media ahead for those places that you are able. With that said, during a time of catastrophe in your area you should check what you have scheduled to see if it is still relevant and appropriate. Cancel any posts that may be trivial or worse unappropriate. I remember attending a webinar from Constant Contact where the presenter said they had posts scheduled to congratulate all of the finishers at the Boston Marathon a few years ago. She had the presence of mind to go and delete the congratulatory posts and acknowledge the bombing had taken place.
Do you stop posting during a catastrophe?
Consistency is still one of the keys to staying visible on social media.
The first question I would ask you back is - where is your audience? Are they national or international? Do they need to realize what is happening? Do they need to realize that it might affect your ability to deliver goods or services? Can you be a means to bringing awareness to others?
If all of your audience is local, I would say you really need to post. Look for links that will help people in the aftermath.
Some good resources are:
I am sure there are more you will find. Sharing good tips and resources makes you a helpful resource for others.
Change the tone of what you share
Be comforting and a center for peace on social media. Everyone is stressed and we all handle stress in our own way.
Be careful about complaining about others. I have seen complaints about companies "dropping the ball" when the catastrophe struck their services, people posting recipes, people posing for pictures after volunteering, not enough people showing up to volunteer. Luckily very few of us are "professional catastrophe managers", we are not going to be perfect. We all handle stress our own way and it may be doing something "normal" like browsing Pinterest and preparing for the day we can cook in our own home again. Be patient with others. Give them a break.
What if your area is not getting attention from the National media?
Ignore that paragraph above. Be vocal about posting what is going on. I honestly believe the only reason people caught on to the disaster unfolding here is because so many people were posting and "calling out" the National media for not paying more attention. Slowly they did realize that this was not just "another flood" but a true human tragedy. There were other regions of the state that still did not get enough attention. Again, BE VOCAL. Sharing on social media spreads the message.
Open or closed?
One of the most important things you can do is to share if you are open or closed. If you are closed, give the best estimate of when you can reopen. If that changes, post again. I had a few clients messaging our social media sites to ask prior to our posts; people want to know or will research your sites to find information.
Social Media is the connection most of us have during a natural disaster.
Stay connected to those you have developed a relationship with during a disaster and be a helpful, calming presence. Disasters bring out the worst and the best in people. Be one of the best.
While I hope you never have to use the ideas in this post, I hope the tips are helpful if you do.