Social Media As A Communication Medium In Crisis Situation

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Question :


Imagine you are an assistant manager of an organisation and suddenly you are faced with a critical situation; a man enters your premises with a weapon. as your boss is away on vacation you are the acting manager on duty and are responsible for responding to the situation. while this is unfolding a young intern of yours tweets your boss, declaring-'OMG there is a man with a gun'.

Critically analyse the use of social media as a communication medium in a crisis situation. should social media be included in a business communication plan? In what ways can social media be used in a positive and negative way in a crisis situation?

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Answer :


Social media in recent days are increasing and in many may it is affecting the mass largely. Nowadays, social media seems like a big part of people’s life. Everything looks and feels easier to do with social media, the increasing popularity is become more straightforward, and the process is not time consuming (Goh, Heng, & Lin, 2013). In this study the entire criteria will revolve round that a situation the company has faced as the intern of the company has posted about the man with the gun who forcefully enters into the office premises and other people get to know about the entire situation through social media can harm the reputation of the company. The increasing popularity of social media can affect the situation of the company. 

Use of social media as a communication medium in a crisis situation:

From listening songs to chatting, video calling all become so simple and easy with the help of the social media service. People just wake up and open their eyes, they do not have to walk outside to get the newspaper, just take the phone and scroll Twitter timeline then everyone can get the information (Leung et al. 2013). Blog and Forum are also types of social media because they allow you to share what people can think about articles, pictures, videos and so on. There is social media, which allows the users not only to share about their profession, major of study, works and company, addresses, political views and religion, but also allow them to find a job and allow the company to find the employees and this become a wide criteria in recent days (Jin, Liu & Austin, 2014)

People think about the advantages of social media and in each situation people are taking help from the social media. In business social media is a powerful media to connect easily with the customers and the customers easily get associated with each business information as well as the products and service offerings.  When a crisis or emergency erupts, the power of social media can be an amazing tool for businesses and sometimes it can harm the reputation of the company as people can think negatively about the organization. A crisis can include anything from a simple website outage to negative publicity of the organization (Alexander, 2014).  For the following organization they have faced the problem that the intern of the company has posted the news that the company is having problem regarding the news about -a man holding a gun by the use of tweeter. As social media is an important aspect in the organizational communication plan but sometimes it can put a negative effect on the organization. People are widely connected with the social media but sometimes it harm to the reputation of the business as people will get to know too much information about the company.  For the establishment of brand image social media is an essential criteria but the negative base only generate from this social media. Social media allows anyone to be a major influence in the community. Any customer can be acknowledged with anything and they are heavily influenced by the company’s each news and information (Middleton, Middleton & Modafferi, 2014)

Social media can fetch good reputation about the company as well as in many times it can affect the good reputation and break it heavily. Following the reputation of small and large organization social media is the powerful media that helps the organizations to reach out to the customers. Social media adds an overwhelming complexity to crisis communication for any organization. The multiple channels, user-level control of messaging, and real-time delivery make social media far more complex than press releases and this process affects conferences and sometimes people. Anyone post anything on behalf of the organization and many people check out the news and they think that this is the ultimate truth about the organization and with this notion in mind they get distracted about the important thing of the organization and believe that exact thing what they have seen in social media (Pang et al. 2014). The social media communication process in terms of handling the crisis situationas the communication need to very much honest so that people do not fall for the wrong things and the openness about the entire criteria with a reasonable sense while acknowledging risk can provide benefit to the organization (Grégoire, Salle & Tripp, 2015)

The organization, in order to serve the information about the crisis the information needs to be reliable and accurate and the coordinative and collaborative supplies with the help of the credible sources are very much important in these criteria. The organization need to meet the needs of the media so that it shows a positive effect on the organization and the information can remain easily accessible for other people. Along with other crisis situationcriteria with the help of the social media, the communication needs to incorporate with compassion, concern and empathy. The organization also needs to prepare itself to face and accept the uncertainty and ambiguity that will occur from the entire situation and maintaining that situation with intellect is the challenge for the organization. The usage of social media is quite good but the problem will occur when people cannot able to handle the entire situation and they will think that this is a crisis situationsituation and in this situation everything need to solve in a strategic way (Parveen, Jaafar & Ainin, 2015). Social media for crisis communication is not intended to directly communicate with everyone socially connected to and the organizational thing largely harmed by this. 

It is to provide resources and accessibility to the journalists and key influencers who amplify your message and it is for stakeholders that need a place to find information but in the crisis situationprocess, everything needs to strategic so that the customers get to know the real information about the actual happening of the organization (Imran et al. 2015). Social media can act as a very fast and effective way to communicate with key stakeholders in the event of a crisis. As many individuals now use various social media conduits as their primary means for getting information but sometimes the problem occurs when the information process is not strategic and people fall for the wrong information and made up their negative thoughts about the organization. 

There are several risk communication strategies and policies that helps in articulating and evaluating the company’s annual risk threats it is important to improve and adapt risk situationthat will examine technological and network changes and its diverse affects. It is significant for the policy makers to understand the necessary network utilization and be able up to speed up with sociological changes and adhere to respond to the social issues effectively (Wamba & Carter, 2016).  With the deployment of social media, the company is helped in dealing with emergency services. When social media cause deterioration of the company affects the operational cost and reduces it fame and name. Therefore, it is important for the company and the communication situationteam in understanding of technical and social knowledge so that they can deal with social media and curve risks and deterioration. The situationneeds to make the employees and its members to understand and restrict from uploading anything that would cause harmful affects to the company. The social media users should be less exposed about the company’s hereabouts via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter through its younger members and employees. As examined there is also a tendency among the leaders that exposure to social media of any form may reduce public expectation. 

When the incident happened, the member uploaded causing tension and stress among the company and the people associated with the company. Such exposure causes arbitrary pressure and legal tension. The organization is affected by the social media impact and negative response causing public in risk and crisis communication causing stress and tension resulting global exposure of the company. There are people relies on the daily news of the company and with exposure off such news may pull them back making them feel that the company is vulnerable in relation to briefings (Rutsaert et al. 2013). There are several competitors of the company who would take the advantages of using social media for deteriorating the business productivity and reputation that results in marketing impact while competitive companies are raised to benefits. There are several emerging tools that help in managing crisis responses through effective communication skills and practitioners engagement in dealing with the negative responses. When unwanted updates are shared over social media it does results in ill reputation of the company. Crowd sourcing risk and crisis relevant needs to be understood by the company’s risk situationteam (Hassan, Nadzim & Shiratuddin, 2015).  

The company needs to connect to the mass media as a tool in providing customer service and adhere to the customer needs and interests. But when a crisis or emergency erupts the company can utilize the power of social media in generating people understandings and importance businesses on the other hand can cause negative publicity.  It needs to be kept in mind that social media causes a major influence in the community and the audience.  When a bad experience is untold by the company or shared by any member it spreads like a blaze of fire while negatively projecting company’s image. Social media can be used as an effective tool that will help outline and spread information regarding recent issues to the public (Neiger et al. 2013)

There are different roles and types of social media that tries to subjugate information in relation to recent issues that can be shared with global mass. During the crisis period, it Is important to deal with the responses and share information strategically via social media in order to that will help in the control of crisis and handling of responses. Crisis period often results in molding company that results in poor communication with the public. Updates through social media channels like Facebook and twitter instead increase complexity to crisis communication that makes the status of the company vulnerable. Since the company is a well established and well reputed company it should use the effective communication platform connect with the stakeholders, employees during the period of crisis.  In recent times the utilization of traditional media such as television, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, social media medium are widely used by public relation practitioners in building healthy relationships and maintain economic balance. With the advancement of globalization and technological advancement the company will be able to fulfill that demands of customers and conduct social media is in conveying accurate information for them to have clear understanding of what is going around in and around the company. However, the company is benefited with the use of social media during crisis period through well-planned and strategic adoption of correct approach in order to reach out to the audience.


The above study helps in identifying information and arguments in regards to the use of social media that can help in generating positive response and recovery during crisis period.  It can be understood from the study that social media is a significant toll or medium that helps to convey information to the public dealing the incidents and present issues and make them aware of the company’s hereabouts. During the crisis situation it can be considered as strategic plan that will generate response while controlling the information. Such strategic use of social media helps in suppressing the worsening of crisis. Proper and effective communication through social media medium helps in polishing company's image. This study determines the necessity of utilizing the social media as an effective platform in regards to company’s communication policy and handling of crisis period. 

Social media updates regarding company’s flaws, and incidents can pose several threats and risks (Leonardi & Meyer, 2015). The company needs to understand technological innovation and the ways that will help the practitioners deal with the negative circumstances. When unwanted incidents occur then it reduces social and governmental interference and help. However, in many cases the use of social media can foster and encourage volunteer communities and develop government established social media strategies that will help the company in handling adverse situations.