Using Social Media with Crisis Communication

A crisis can happen at any moment! As public relations practitioners, we must be ready to manage crises as quickly and as effectively as possible.

Social media is a huge part of the today’s world. According to statista.com, nearly 1,800 million people are active on Facebook and Twitter alone. Knowing these statistics, what better place to instantaneously address a situation or crisis than on social media?

Even though social media can be an instrumental tool in addressing crises, it must be used with care. jeffbullas.com gives us a 5-step guide explaining how to use social media effectively in managing a crisis situation.

  1. Timing is EVERYTHING!

Timing can make or break the way a you handle a crisis. When handling a crisis, it is extremely important to address the issue quickly. It is also important to be the first to address the crisis. Being the first to address a crisis not only shows transparency, but it shows that you are working to resolve the issue.

  1. Own the conversation

Own the conversation from the beginning. Post updates often and do not let other social media users take over the crisis conversation. Create a suitable and appropriate hashtag that users can monitor to receive crisis updates between social mediums.

  1. Stick to a designated source

Without one designated source, information can become misleading. This is how false information and rumors spread. It is important to provide your followers with links to one designated source for crisis updates. Include your source in every post, so that there is no misinterpretation.

  1. Give a call to action

Don’t make people wait for information without options. Place a call to action in all of your posts! This could be as simple as a hotline to call and ask questions, or a link to follow for updates.

  1. Don’t lash out

Lashing out at your customers, supporters and followers is not the answer. Lashing out will not make anything better. If anything, it will make things worse. Not only could it look like you are trying to hide something, but it could also deter people from supporting your brand.

No matter what the crisis, big or small, social media can be a valuable tool in managing the situation. Just remember, in order to be of help, social media must be used carefully. When faced with a crisis, create a crisis management plan for social media using the five guidelines above. If you don’t, you may have another crisis situation to handle.

Sources:

http://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/06/26/a-5-step-guide-to-using-social-media-in-crisis-management/


Megan Bayles is a current senior at Waynesburg University where she majors in Public Relations and minors in Marketing. Megan serves as our PRSSA Chapter president and is involved in many other campus activities.

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