Crisis Mode: Fight or Flight?

It is important for organizations to be present on social media because of its reach. Individuals use social media to share their thoughts following a crisis; thus organizations must have a crisis management plan with clear objectives, so they may listen and respond. It is critical that companies have social media accounts so their responses can be quick, transparent, and contain accurate information in a crisis. The video below explains what stakeholders look for in a company’s response to a crisis from 1:35 – 2:35.

Presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, can be of great use to organizations. The use of communication strategies through social media can keep a crisis under control if done in a timely manner. This is due in large part to the interactive nature of social media. Before social media, the two-way interaction, that is now expected by the public, was difficult. This interactivity provides companies with a platform to regain trust from constituents following a crisis because now they are able to easily have a conversation.

The example from the previous link detailed Asiana Airlines’ use of the Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo to communicate with their publics following the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 on July 6, 2013. The crash was the fault of the pilot, and passengers were injured and killed. Asiana Airlines posted 38 corporate posts to keep their audience in the loop, and there were over 8,000 responses to those posts from their audience. The authors of this article used a seven-step approach to crisis communication management to analyze the effectiveness of Asiana Airlines’ responses to customers over social media. They also conducted a sentiment analysis of the public’s responses to see how well they were accepting Asiana Airlines’ messages using the aforementioned crisis communication management steps.

Asiana Airlines continually kept their constituents well-informed on current information as well as made it clear they were doing their best to resolve the issue. Initially, there was an overwhelming amount of negative comments on Sina Weibo. However, from July 9th to 16th, responses involving negative tone began to decline, and there was a rise in responses with positive or neutral tones. This demonstrated that Asiana Airlines’ crisis communication strategies were effective. After July 23rd, the volume and frequency of responses suggested that communications between the airline and its publics had returned to “normalcy.” Returning to normal communication following a crisis is an essential objective.

This study shows how Asiana Airline’s crisis communication strategies were successful and effective. These communication strategies were made easier by the social media platform they used because of the quick two-way interaction that it allowed.


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