The Importance of Online Communication in Times of Crisis

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

This is a re-post of an article I wrote for EyeforTransport, which can be found here.

When I was at the European 3PL Summit last month, I watched a CapGemini consultant present the 3PL Study results. When he got to the Supply Chain Innovation part of the report he said something that really blew my mind. He told the audience he had no idea what social media was doing in the report and dismissed social media as a relevant technology for logistics service providers. How can somebody living in 2012 say that!?!?

How Logistics Companies Can Use Social Media

There are many ways Logistics companies can utilize social media, ie internal and external communication, PR, branding, recruitment, customer service and streamlining of business processes. And that’s just looking at mainstream social channels like Twitter, Yammer, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

One recent communication example of how social media helped the New York Fire Department with the logistics of saving lives:

When the hurricane hit New York it took out electricity and telephone lines in a large part of the City. People grabbed their smartphones and turned to Twitter to find out what was going on. When phone calls didn’t go through to 911, people took to the internet to call for help. New York City Fire Department’s Social Media Manager Emily Rahimi literally saved lives through the FDNY Twitter Account, as she told CNN

“A lot of people couldn’t get through to a 911 dispatcher. So I took their information and called our dispatchers myself to make sure they sent an emergency crew.”

There were more than 20 million tweets sent related to Sandy. Twitter created a special page for the #Sandy hashtag where all tweets about the hurricane were shown. Normally these pages are sponsored for big events like the Super Bowl, but Twitter wanted to help people with finding relevant information fast. Tweets by organisations like FEMA, NYPD and FDNY, were given prominent places on the page and links to the most important accounts giving relevant information to the people affected were shown.

Twitter Sandy
Twitter’s Dedicated #Sandy Page

And this is just Twitter in times of need…

Current Number of Users per Social Media Channel

Now have a look at this general overview:

Twitter: Over 500 million active user as of 2012

Facebook: One billion monthly active users as of October 2012

LinkedIn: 161 million members in over 200 countries

Google+: 100 million active users as of September 2012

Instagram: 5 million pictures uploaded every day 

Looking at these staggering numbers it’s impossible to dismiss social media as a relevant technology. And don’t get me wrong: social media goes much further than people on Facebook and Twitter posting messages about their cat (the standard cynics’ view). And my overview above just focuses on the general social media channels, but we need to think beyond those, as Adrian Gonzalez pointed out in his post on social media and supply chain:

“…the ecosystem of “social networking” solutions also includes “Enterprise 2.0” applications (aka “Enterprise Social Software”) that companies can deploy internally to facilitate communication and collaboration between employees and different functional groups, and with suppliers, customers, and other external partners in a private, secure environment.”

I believe social media is very relevant for logistics and supply chain companies and operations. If you want to discuss this (Logistics)Matter you can find me on all of the above mentioned social networks (and more)…

Or leave your comments below!

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