Crisis Communication and Social Media: The Good and Bad

When developing a business plan, it is imperative to include a crisis communication strategy. This includes how to handle negative customer feedback and how to respond to the public if a crisis occurs – for example, a competitor publicly challenging the ethics of your company. In the field of public relations, we explore the best routes to deal with crisis communication before finalizing methods in a business plan.

In the past year, an increasing number of companies have used social media as one of the ways to effectively deal with a crisis. This is because social media allows a company to communicate with its publics immediately – engaging in crisis communication the minute a crisis occurs.

As you may know, social media can be a beneficial, yet risky, platform for engaging with your audience in general – let alone a crisis situation. However, we are always concerned with maintaining a good brand and public image – therefore – the various ways to employ social media during a crisis are worth exploring.

The ups and downs:

(1) Any information that is pushed to the web stays on the web – it is permanent. A year or two after a crisis, potential customers and partners are still able to access any information/conversations about the crisis. It may appear in a search query without them even looking for it, and the more you respond to a crisis using social media, the more a crisis will become widely circulated information. However, even if you do not choose to respond to a crisis using social media, the incident will still be talked about by others via social media. It is better to respond and be a part of this conversation; otherwise, it looks like you are ignoring your publics.

(2) Social media allows you to measure the impact of a crisis in great detail. Platforms such as blogs, Twitter and industry forums provide users with analytics to track the amount of traffic around a certain conversation. It is a more indepth look into how publics are responding to and talking about your crisis. This allows companies to address a greater number of audience members than they would be able to if they were just to hold a press conference about the crisis situation.

(3) In a crisis situation, the public will most certainly look to your company for an immediate response – social media allows you to do this. However, social media is an uncontrolled environment to communicate in – you have to be ready for anything that could be thrown at you.

So, if you are thinking about using social media, keep in mind its benefits and downfalls for crisis communication. This will help you since effective crisis communication is a major component of running a smooth business operation.

Already using social media? Avoid social media traps when a crisis occurs by keeping up with your monitoring and always clearly communicating with your publics.

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