Is Social Media Good for Crisis Communications?

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

The rules are changing when it comes to using social media for crisis communications.

That is because the social media giants such as Facebook, are making it harder for your crisis notifications to show up in the news feed of your subscribers.

Jay Baer is one of the top experts in the use of social media. He recently told me that Facebook has pulled the football out from underneath you like Lucy pulls the football out from Charlie Brown just before he can kick it.

During one of his presentations, he showed a frightening graph of how since 2014, Facebook has been showing your posts to fewer of your followers and friends. They really want you to buy Facebook ads, but I’d never suggest you do that in a crisis.

You’ve likely noticed in your own social media use that you don’t see posts from as many of your friends as you did five years ago. Facebook has intentionally done this.

If you write a post and no one clicks like or comments, your post will die.

If someone clicks “like,” Facebook lets a few more people see it with each like.

If someone comments, Facebook shows it to even more people.

In other words, Facebook gives you more views with each interaction.

This means I have good news and bad news for you when it comes to crisis communications.

The good news is that if fewer people see your post about a crisis, that means fewer trolls can say ugly things about your organization.

The bad news is, if you have something important that you want people to see, fewer people will see your post.

Honestly, your website should be the main place where people read about your crisis. You own that real estate. You don’t own your space on social media. Jay Baer has always said that

You should never build your house on rented land.

Social media is rented land. On the other hand, you own your website and hopefully you have a robust newsroom where you share good and bad news alike.

When using social media in a crisis, you should never try to grab attention with a compelling headline. Rather, you should simply write, “We have an update to our event posted on our website.” Then add the link. Those who know about the crisis can learn more with one click.

Social media is a double edged sword.

Experience tells us that in a crisis, it may increase damage to your organization’s reputation and revenue.  However, many communicators think social media might enhance their corporate reputation because they are being transparent and open. The place to be transparent and open is on your website where no one can comment. Being open and transparent on social media only attracts trolls and negative comments. In a crisis, you are too busy with more important things than to try to moderate comments from trolls and nay sayers.

The reality is, a proper, honest post on your company website is as open and transparent as you can be. Use the land you own and not the land you rent.

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

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