Social media can have a positive and a negative effect on organizations. However if a crisis occurs that is related to your organization, social media can be the new Wild West where every participant can take the law in their own hands. For that reason it is necessary to have a strategic social media plan before a crisis hits and try to avoid a crisis by engaging early when problems arise.
During a crisis it is critical to be present, to listen, and where necessary to engage. In the online world a crisis cannot be dealt with in board rooms with closed doors only any more. It is important for leaders and organizations to engage in meaningful discourse and real-time sensemaking no matter if the discussion is lead by real people or from parody accounts.
Most response strategies that are used during a crisis are still quite defensive such as ‘justification’, ‘full apology,’ ‘excuse’, ‘scapegoating,’ and ‘denial’. Sometimes these defensive strategies are not effective and can be even quite harmful for the organization.
Companies that are engaged only in one-way online communication are perceived to be impersonal and therefore fail to demonstrate commitment and care in times of a crisis, while companies that actively engage with audiences can provide a personal touch in their crisis communication that can turn around negative opinions.
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