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Business Communication Use Of Social Media

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Question:

Discuss about the Business communication use of social Media in A Crisis Situation.
 
 

Answer:

During the digital age, social media platforms have been forming an increasingly central part of how people communicate (Reiter, 2011). Various social media platforms like Facebook, Cafemom, Twitter, WhatsApp, Youtube among others allows people in different regions of the world to share information. Its ability to circulate and amplify information as well as the capacity to lead informal conversations makes it to be applied in professional context.

Social media is an important lever of crisis management during the new media age (Jin, 2016). According to researchers, the world’s digital population is more literate and more vocal than the offline counterparts. Because of this factor, there is a high possibility that most of the news that relates to the corporate crisis will first break online.

Every organization is vulnerable to crisis and the time when the crises will arise is sometimes unpredictable (George & Pratt, 2012). Therefore, establishing mitigation strategies plays a significant role in preventing the effects of crises when they occur. For example, a man coming to an organization could hurt or kill the assistant manager or other people in the company.

While formulating communication plan for an organization, social media should be considered because it is cost effective tools, easy to access and joins a large number of people compared to some of the traditional methods like email and online advertising (Jin, 2016). The blog posts, tweets, and Facebook upload can enable organizations to offer immediate response or assistance to the employee, customers, and other stakeholders, during the times of crises.

As companies continue to become more vulnerable to crisis, it has become mandatory for them to incorporate social media into crises communication plans because it assists in disseminating relevant information instantaneously (Forman, 2013). Although there are various factors to consider before disseminating information through this mode of communication, social media is a paramount tool which when used in the right way can assist an organization to prepare, respond and recover from all sorts of crises.

In the current days, a lot of social media platforms enable companies to provide information concerning emergencies more efficiently because they represent the new communication mechanism (Jin, 2016). Most of the social media platforms are with Computerized, digital, and communication technology that allows networking in the fastest and more efficient ways to various audiences simultaneously. As a result of these features, organizations have realized it can assist them to influence the way in which people think, behave and react to information and situations during the times of crises.

 


Because of being linked to the modern technology, social media can distribute information faster than the traditional ways (Liam, 2011). Most of the platforms are also easily accessible because they are available in almost all internet enabled devices including cell phones. The reason why this medium of communication should be used in communication plan is that it is cheaper compared to other forms of communication.

The role of social media during the times of crises is vital and unavoidable (Liam, 2011). The use of these platforms can enable an organization to enhance readiness and responses, minimize the cost of the crisis, improve transparency of decisions and also improve the potential acceptance of the possible outcomes. Indeed, the use of social media can be used as a primary communication tool during crises.

Companies that are sensitive to changes and technological adaptations constantly use blogs, twitter, cell phones and other social media platforms to disseminate information concerning crisis (Karen, 2013). The use of these tools enables these companies to reach large number of audience with minimal cost.

While status update in most of the social media platforms is associated with regular life updates or significant life announcements, taking a second to write “everything is okay” in the wake of crises can be an incredibly fast and simple way of relieving stakeholders from uneasiness (Forman, 2013). Some of the social media platforms have moved this case to the next level by introducing “Facebook safety check.” This aspect enables Facebook to ask if you are fine when there are crises in your company or city. If you respond that everything is fine, it automatically sends out a status update which says that “I am safe.”

When people reason about the benefits of social media in business operations, they mostly think about marketing (Rundle, 2010 ). However, many companies are beginning to use social media in various aspects including communicating in the events of crises. When crises or emergency occur, social media can be used distribute information and also to seek for assistance. When emergencies arise, individuals look for an immediate and detailed response concerning what might be happening. They use social media platforms to obtain as much information as possible concerning the risks and the outcomes of the crisis.

 


Continuous idea sharing in organizations enriches the culture of innovation and teamwork. The use of social media helps companies to enhance brainstorming, collaboration, and creativity. Frequent and timely communication helps the employees, managers and other stakeholders to stay connected to what is happening within the organization. For example, when the intern tweeted the boss that there was an armed person in the company he or she assisted him to know what was going on in the organization.

The case of giving the boss information concerning the danger that was facing the company could help the boss to take an immediate action like calling the police to address the issue (Rundle, 2010 ). This means if well utilized, social media can assist in addressing real-time information that can help in dealing with risk activities that may endanger the lives of staff members.

Apart from realizing benefits during the times of crisis, use social media as an internal communication platform can enable an organization to achieve other advantages (Richard, 2011). Some of these benefits may include an increase in profits, reputation and employee satisfaction. The use of social media in communication plan also facilitates faster decision making, easier collaboration on projects and greater recognition for the staff member who performs better. When cell phone networks are blocked, social media can be an effective way of tracing a missing employee or someone who is in danger within an organization.

Various aspects make social media so influential in organizational communication. One of these factors is it is free to sign up, meaning any person can join. Another factor is that most of the social media platforms have massive memberships (George & Pratt, 2012). For example, Facebook alone has more than million users who are in different areas of the world. This indicates that this mode of communication can connect employees with their bosses irrespective of their geographical locations.

Including social media has other benefits apart from just communicating. Because of its ability to link a significant number of people, organizations can use social media as an advertising tool (Melissa, 2015). Companies have realized that advertising products through social media is cheaper and more efficient than using mass media and other advertising channels. Some of the big companies like Dell have used social media to maximize their sales, brand, and market share.

Social media has established a new way for employees to connect and share information when emergencies occur (Monahan, 2010). This includes enabling the victims to look for assistance when the traditional sources of communication are not available and sharing information when crises are likely to arise. Although there are various issues that organizations should be conscious of when using social media in their communication plan, the benefits identified in the recent studies are undeniable.

 


The use of social media in times of crises can be successful when three key aspects are considered. These aspects are; the delivery channel, the message content and the frequency of message delivery (Jeanne, 2013). When using these platforms during times of crises, the information that the company sends should take into account various factors like who will read the message and the kind of response they are likely to provide. The information should be in line with the company’s goals and policy and must be sincere, honest and informative.

While using social media as a communication tool, it is important to ensure the message content is designed in a manner that it can assist in closing the gap between what the recipients know and what they would like to know (Reiter, 2011).  The company should also be keen with the content so as to avoid sending incorrect information.

Although social media has had a lot of benefits during the times of crises, there are various negative issues associated with it when used as a communication tool in organizations. For example, most of the starters tend to feel that people on social media are often wrong. The reason why they have this kind of perception is that most of the platforms do not have truth filter. When the new users read a stream of other people’s opinions, the process becomes tedious and even fails to understand those who are talking facts and those who exaggerate their comments.

During times of crises, information should be sent immediately to the people who are likely to be impacted like employees and other stakeholders to ensure their safety (Marilyn, 2015). Because not everyone is in the social media and also those who are members may not be online during the times of crises, the use of social media as a communication tool during the times of crises may not be as efficient as using an emergency notification system.

Using social media platforms as a communication tool can also encourage the spread of misinformation which may impact the reputation of an organization especially when the information is published (Venegas, 2010). In the era when the traditional ways of communication ruled the day, organizations were able to edit incorrect information or even request for a retraction in case of inaccurate coverage. In the recent days, misinformation can be intentionally published and end up impacting the reputation of an organization.

The speed associated with most of the social media platforms enables information to spread more broadly (Napoleon, 2013). That is, it offers a decentralized network structure which through linking, sharing, as well as posting, encourages a wider spread of information. This means in occasions of crises, information can be revealed publicly and globally, hence making the containment of crises and its effects more challenging. Sometimes when the information is not real, the company may end up experiencing challenges to convince a large number of people that what they read from the social media was unreal (Marilyn, 2015). When information send through social media, it may also reveal sensitive details that can endanger other people.

 


Because the information send through social media during the events of crises reaches a large number of audiences, some of the people respond with comments which may worsen the scenario (Nicholaus, 2014). For example, when an organization is faced with crises, there are those in the social media who will give an exaggerated feedback concerning the situation. Providing exaggerated comments may make other people to make wrong conclusions concerning the scenario, or may even trigger other crises. Competitors may also utilize the information send through social media to come up with strategies that can enable them to attain a competitive advantage.

As a conclusion, social media can be a valuable tool in organization’s communication plans (Jin, 2016). It can also be an efficient communication mechanism not only for minimizing the impact of crises but also as a useful channel for sharing knowledge and the management of crises in organizations.

Most of the companies do not understand that the best time to think about crises is not during the crises. Organizations should consider investing in social media communication channels and encourage online consumer relationships (Suzanne, 2010). The role of social media in times of crises is to defend organizational reputation. After establishing online relationships, companies should leverage these associations and draw upon goodwill in times of crises.

Crises communication plans is an important public relation tool. Some of the Social media platforms can be used as a communication tool in times of crises (Venegas, 2010). However, using this tool may either assist or hurt in times of crises. This means organizations must be careful while using social media in their communication plans.

 

References

Forman, J., 2013. Storytelling in Business: The Authentic and Fluent Organization. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

George, A. M. & Pratt, C. B., 2012. Case Studies in Crisis Communication: International Perspectives on Hits and Misses. New York: Routledge.

Jeanne, M., 2013. Three Trends Affect Social Media Adoption in Your Agency. The Public Manager, 42(1), pp. 422-430.

Jin, D. Y., 2016. Understanding Civic Engagement in the Smartphone Era: Corporate Sphere vs. Public Sphere *. Development and Society, 45(2), pp. 78-123.

Karen, S., 2013. Connecting Social Media problems and popular culture: Why Media is Not the Answer.. Boulder CO: Westview Press.

Liam, C., 2011. Jamming on Innovation: An Interview with Liam Cleaver. Research-Technology Management, 56(6), pp. 78-90.

Marilyn, C., 2015. An Analytical Report Assignment-Identifying the Use of Social Media by Business Functions. Journal of Applied Research for Business Instruction, 13(1), pp. 89-92.

Melissa, V., 2015. The Social Media Handbook: Policies and Best Practices to Effectively Manage Your Organization's Social Media Presence, Posts, and Potential Risks. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 31(1), pp. 120-132.

Monahan, B. A., 2010. The Shock of the News: Media Coverage and the Making of 9/11. New York: New York University Press.

Napoleon, B., 2013. The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management: How to Manage the Media in the Digital Age. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 90(1), pp. 89-100.

Nicholaus, E., 2014. Outlining a Crisis Management Plan for a Community: Crisis Planning in Michigan. Michigan Journal of Counseling, 41(1), pp. 54-80.

Reiter, R. M., 2011. Mediated Business Interactions: Intercultural Communication between Speakers of Spanish. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Richard, G. A., 2011. Editor's Note: Intelligent Networking and Global Media Communication. Global Media Journal, 11(19), pp. 90-120.

Rundle, C. N., 2010 . The Communication Problem Solver: Simple Tools and Techniques for Busy Managers.. New York: American Management Association.

Suzanne, G. A., 2010. Crisis Communications Management 2.0: Organizational Principles to Manage Crisis in an Online World.1. Organization Development Journal, 28(1), pp. 85-90.

Venegas, C., 2010. Digital Dilemmas: The State, the Individual, and Digital Media in Cuba. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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