How to Use Facebook for Audience Research & Crisis Communications (Case Study)

Planned Parenthood faced a communications crisis last week when a clinic manager was videotaped covertly by actors working for an anti-abortion group, while she giving advice on getting medical care for under-age prostitutes. The stunt was designed to power the group’s campaign to cut off public financing for Planned Parenthood.

But Planned Parenthood responded to this crisis swiftly and comprehensively, emphasizing its commitment to “stay focused on giving women the health care they need and deserve.” Most importantly, Planned Parenthood didn’t leave it at traditional crisis communications. It acted swiftly to articulate the strategy behind the video stunt and to terminate the manager in question, as the organization does not provide health services to minors. And it leveraged the strong relationship it has with its community online…

I was pleased to hear from Planned Parenthood almost immediately after the news hit, via Facebook. I’m one of the organization’s 97,000 likes which means I saw this update before I heard the story elsewhere:

That was followed by several updates over the next few days, dripping out the organization’s response as the sequence of events became clear. Planned Parenthood’s use of Facebook for immediate and ongoing outreach — positioning the action as part of a de-funding attach, reinforcing its own values and focus, asking for support, pledging to do the right thing — motivated strong and vocal support for the organization.

Ironically, Planned Parenthood’s outreach to its Facebook community on its Facebook presence (a.k.a. audience research) had caught my eye earlier last week:

What better way to hone your social media presence than asking your community? Planned Parenthood has received 194 comments to date in just one week. The staff has taken an active role in the discussion, asking for clarification and thanking commenters. And the feedback they’ve received is really useful. Here’s a sampling:

  • It would be great to have info about volunteering/interning opportunities for young people with plenty of free time to give to good causes.
  • Seems like a lot; I see several posts per day, and I glaze over at least half of them.
  • Great idea to poll your supporters! Have you developed a formal strategy for utilizing social media? You can include more posts, links, and information without clogging the newsfeed by using customized tabs. If you want tips/strategies, I’d be happy to share! Keep up the good work.
  • I don’t know if I’d separate the info– I like the posts; hard to separate health info from the political since a lot of yourr health services are constrained by politics.

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s marketing impact with the new 2011 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz on February 7, 2011 in Social Media | 0 comments
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