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#Hashtag, Do You Read, Over?

Today any news event, opinion or statement, can be read, understood, and absorbed by millions within seconds – just with a simple #. This global reach and accessibility is what makes social media so powerful. But with great power comes great responsibility!

Facebook and Twitter act like de facto news networks. From unrest in Tunisia, Egypt and the Ukraine to the London riots of 2011, unrest can be planned and covered using social media.

But what happens when the information spread around the world is wrong, whether by accident, falsification or propaganda? The news of Justin Bieber’s retirement circled the globe in a matter of seconds, but for all those who broke into early celebration, this unfortunately turned out to be false.

False information can turn out to be harmless. It can ruin a reputation. In extreme circumstances, it could help fuel a war. So how do you handle an incorrect tweet? With great difficulty!

This is one of the issues being discussed as part of Business Continuity Awareness Week. Governments, corporations and other enterprises need to have an appropriate strategy, and mechanism, to issue the right message at the right time to the right people. Whether it be for business continuity, disaster avoidance, or reputation management, it’s imperative that everything’s set and ready to go when required. Speed in these instances is of the essence, and accurate information is key.

So how do you get your message to your target audience? Sometimes, social media isn’t a bad place to start. Your message could be heard in seconds. But because social media is an asynchronous experience, there is no way to determine if everyone is going to see or absorb your message.

Interactive voice, SMS, and application push notifications are all channels that should be considered and used in business continuity or disaster avoidance scenarios. They are particularly useful when you require a response from the recipient, to say “I’ve got it, and I understand.” Many institutions still rely on manual phone-based waterfalls which are labour-intensive, unreliable and slow.

When a fire alarm goes off, you just assume everyone will stop what they’re doing and exit the building immediately. But post-9/11 research has shown that two-thirds of the time it takes occupants to exit a building is spent looking for more information. Businesses can cut that time down dramatically using services such as FICO's Customer Communication Services, which can automate interactive communication with your contact stream at the click of a button.

Whether your business is responding to physical danger, reputation risk, or just plain old bad news, having the ability to inform the right people faster makes all the difference.

Thanks to Philip Doyle of Fair Isaac Advisors, FICO’s consultancy group, for this post.

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