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How to use social media for crisis communication

Whether we like it or not, social media today transcend all what we do: business and personal lives inclusive. From Twitter to Facebook, LinkedIn and even down to the Youtube and more; we cannot ignore any.  So many people today depend on these channels to find out what is happening around them, more reason why most organisations today focus their communication efforts on social media.

Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social media is exceptional from traditional media in many aspects such as reach, frequency, usability, immediacy among others.

In today’s social media world, news travel at a supersonic rate; especially with bad news. Companies are now abreast of this fact and have become proactive in reacting to any communications issues. Gone are the days when press briefing is first considered as the means of crisis communication. Today’s target audience require prompt and timely response on every issues, hence, companies cannot afford to disappoint.

Aside crisis communication, brands owners also leverage on social media platform to add a personal touch to difficult customer service situations in a humorous tone. This form of conversation brings them closer to the clients and positions them as friendly organization and brands that fail to respond are tagged as irresponsible.

Bearing these in mind, it is important that companies optimize their online presence and respond as appropriate in case of news breaks or mentions of your companies online.  Tools like google alerts are vital in this regards to track such mentions. For negative mentions, the social media group steps-in to be part of the conversation and offer information from their own point of view; to correct all forms of misconceptions and misinformation that might have been circulated, mitigate the risk and proffer true picture of the incidence.

It is often said that, “No amount of PR “spin” can make a crisis go away, but a well-managed response can minimize its impact.” Social media is a tool that can be very powerful and effective when used appropriately. It is unprofessional for companies to wait till crisis spreads before they maximize their presence online. Brand owners and organizations need to build favourable online corporate profile on all available platforms and monitor same for any misinformation before they result to crisis.

In case any happens, a transparent, subtle, timely and proactively use of the social media to institute a direct interaction with individuals concerned will help in tremendous ways before well planned crisis communications and formal communications strategies are put in place (which might include reaching out to journalists). Failure on the part of any organization to use their social media channels to inform the general public will give the clients opportunity for use theirs to spread wrong information which might be difficult to clear.

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