The Importance of Crisis Communication on Social Media: the Facebook Case

Diana Cokarić

In 2006, Facebook became public which resulted in one billion active Facebook users by 2012, making it the first social network ever to do so. According to Statista.com, Facebook currently has 2.23 billion active users.

On the 26th of September 2018, Facebook encountered the largest safety breach to date: 50 million users were hacked. This breach allowed hackers to directly take over user accounts and most information in the victim’s profile. It’s still unclear whether the attack included private messages and was any data misused. After such a catastrophic event, certain steps had to be taken to correct the situation. Affected users received a message at the top of their News Feed about the issue when they logged back into the social network. Also, Mark Zuckerberg updated his own Facebook status with additional information. In his status he explained the steps and measures that had been taken. People mostly posted positive comments and their support. A study conducted by Weber Shandwick showed that 85% of consumers form opinions about companies based on how they react during crises. That might be one of the reasons why people reacted so positively. Mark Zuckerberg approached them through the platform and explained the whole situation step by step which, apparently, calmed the users.

7 steps of an effective Crisis Communication process:

This kind of a crisis can have a negative effect on the brand’s image. Consumers perceive brands negatively if they see negative press coverage and are, thus, less likely to purchase its goods or services. According to Chris Britton, crisis communication refers to the technologies, systems, and protocols that enable an organization to effectively communicate during a crisis. To save an organization’s reputation, Crisis Communication experts are employed. Here are a few best practices that Crisis Communication experts use for management of (a potential) crisis according to RH Strategic:

  1. Be Prepared: Develop a crisis plan. Brainstorm potential crisis scenarios and regularly update your plan.
  2. Practice: Simply having a plan is not enough, you must practice it. Everyone who has a role in a crisis management scenario needs to know what the plan is and exactly what their obligations are.
  3. Accept Responsibility: If your company is in the wrong, admit it as soon as possible. The public is much more forgiving if a company accepts responsibility rather than trying to cover up a mistake.
  4. Be Consistent: In a time of crisis, keeping your message consistent is critical – this also includes the consistency of the person delivering the messaging.
  5. Operate as Though You’re on National TV: Remember to stay calm and think twice before acting. Today, any person with a smartphone can instantly record a person’s words or actions and share them with a news outlet via tweet or something as simple as that.
  6. Control the Damage: Immediately addressing the problem and presenting a solution during a crisis is a great idea but be sure to update the public with transparent messaging.
  7. Take Time to Reflect: After the crisis has passed, take time to reflect on what went right and what went wrong from a communications perspective.

Back to Facebook

Back to the Facebook situation – it seems that their Crisis Communication experts did a great job. As shown above, the number of users on Facebook is increasing steadily which shows that people still trust Facebook. How long will the trust in Facebook last, and how many crisis situations will happen before people give up on it – only time will tell.

Diana Cokarić

Author Diana Cokarić

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